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updated: 3/22/2011 5:09 PM

Arlington Heights Library board candidates discuss priorities

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  • Frank Biga

    Frank Biga

  • Deborah Nelson

    Deborah Nelson

  • Joan Brody Garkisch

    Joan Brody Garkisch

  • Debbie Smart

    Debbie Smart

  • David Unumb

    David Unumb


The five candidates seeking three open seats on the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Board have different ideas on how to keep the library relevant and meet increasing demand for services during lean times.

David Unumb, the veteran of the group with three different stints on the board since 1983, said he'll use his experience as a trustee and a retired college administrator to continue promoting budgetary restraint.

The 77-year-old incumbent said he works to keep a pulse on the changing needs of the entire community, keeping in mind some patrons treasure books while others require the latest in technology.

"I wish to continue to assist in the effective use of long-range planning approaches and to anticipate the development in information storage and retrieval as technology affects library operations," Unumb wrote in response to a Daily Herald questionnaire.

Incumbent Deborah Nelson, 42, said she has twice voted against increasing the library's tax levy and will work to hold the line on taxes with sensitive and responsible oversight.

Nelson said her 20 years experience in the nonprofit sector guiding museums and libraries in strategic planning and fundraising is an asset to the library.

Unumb and Nelson are joined on the April 5 ballot by political newcomers Frank Biga III, Joan Brody Garkisch and Debbie Smart.

Many of Biga's ideas stem from his experience as a high school economics and history teacher. The 38-year-old said that in addition to focusing on fiscal responsibility, he'd like to develop more programs with local school districts that help students meet and exceed No Child Left Behind and other testing standards.

He also wants to change policies that have driven him to often use the Mount Prospect Library, namely the $1 per day late fee on movies and one-week limit on nonfiction DVD rentals. He also wants to see an improved history collection.

Brody Garkisch, a 46-year-old Harvard-educated grant writer, said her experience working with government and nonprofit budgets in difficult fiscal times will help the library continue to provide excellent services while identifying creative cost-saving strategies.

She said the library already is reinventing itself to meet the changing role of public libraries through expanded and enhanced technology in almost every area of operations.

Smart, a retired insurance executive now working as a manager at a downtown Arlington Heights wine shop, puts transparency and fiscal oversight as her top priorities.

Smart, 56, said she'd like to see the library provide more webcasts and podcasts to teens, families and seniors, and also revamp the teen space to include new products and services.

She would increase outreach to the community through partnerships with schools, nonprofits and businesses, such as the library's Job Seekers program.