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updated: 2/22/2013 6:09 PM

Hela Ben-Ayed: Candidate Profile

Cook Memorial Library Board (4-year Terms)

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  • Hela Ben-Ayed, running for Cook Memorial Library Board  (4-year Terms)

    Hela Ben-Ayed, running for Cook Memorial Library Board (4-year Terms)




Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A



City: Libertyville


Office sought: Cook Memorial Library Board (4-year Terms)

Age: Candidate did not respond.

Family: Married, two children

Occupation: Coach for Corporate Leaders - Business French and Change Management

Education: Ph.D., Management Sciences (Change Management), Jean Moulin University Lyon 3/ EMLYON Business School, France, 2004

Civic involvement: Candidate did not respond.

Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Ensure that the Cook Memorial Public Library District stays attuned with and relevant to the evolving needs of the community: Success of an establishment depends on its ability to listen and adapt to the trends of its main stakeholders. This is no different for a Library where shifts in community lifestyles, needs and tastes pose survival challenges. Recent technological advancements specifically and the proliferation of digital media are examples of these challenges. How should library budget be deployed in a resourceful way to ensure that such challenges are turned from a potential competitive threat to an opportunity for growth? Also, make sure that Library staff, as the main interface with the library patronage, is leveraged in gathering and reporting feedback from these patrons back to management.

Key Issue 2

Promote the role of the Cook Memorial Public Library District from an information provider to a change catalyst: The Cook Memorial Public Library District is already offering amazing materials and services to different patrons of all ages, socio-economic levels and capabilities. The role of the library should not stop with making information available, but should extend to include innovative ways to present these information and bring it to life in a way that is meaningful to people's lives and aspirations (such as job search service, personal development workshops?). Today it is imperative that the Cook Memorial Public Library District continue in this direction and embrace the challenge of a new role as a change driver. Such extended role relies on increased partnership with surrounding community institutions. I view my experiences in both Change Management, and entrepreneurship counseling as assets in working towards these goals.

Key Issue 3

Promote cultural diversity: Although we belong to the Chicago metropolitan area, suburban communities remain less culturally diverse then what we may see in the city of Chicago. This is not necessarily due to the city being demographically more of a mosaic than what we are in the suburbs, as much as it is due, in my opinion, to disparity in opportunities for such diversity to be pronounced and expressed (such as cultural events, venues and platforms). The point is not to set us on a competition course with the city. But rather to put the focus and emphasis on the public library as a key community player to foster and bring to the surface the richness of cultural diversity that make up the suburban social fabric. I can think about two-way channel: we can help international community members integrate with the American society through programs centered around learning the American language and culture, but also we can design cultural, linguistis and artistic programs that engage these community members to capture the cultural heritage that they bring with them as a way to further enrich the American culture. Having lived in four different countries (spanning 3 continents) I developed an appreciation for the differences in cultures and an ability to positively engage people through the angle of these differences.

Questions & Answers

Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?

Since I moved to Libertyville in 2006, Cook Memorial Public Library District has been an important part of my family's life. I really appreciate the library's role as an important place and resource for the community. Since their baby ages, my kids liked going to the library for story time, to get books and play at the inviting kid's area. I, myself, was part of a book reading group at the library. Now I am eager to give back to the Cook Memorial Public Library District. I am, in particular, eager to engage the library in programs that capitalize on cultural diversity.

If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of important initiatives you've led. If you are a non-incumbent, tell us what special contributions you could make.

I believe I can bring new perspectives to the board in terms of ensuring continued relevance of the library, promoting the role of the library as a change catalyst and promoting cultural diversity. The experience I have in teaching, working with the community and in business combined with my multi-cultural fluency set me in a strong position to promote the development programs that I envision for the library.

Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?

Yes I do have a library card since I moved to Libertyville in 2006. As a family, we were eagerly waiting for my daughter to turn four, so she can apply for her own library card. We are now waiting for my son to celebrate the same event when he turns four in March.

Space is usually an issue at libraries. If that's the case at your library, would your solution be to expand the physical plant or make room by doing away with parts of the collection that technology has made less critical? Explain.

Space is always at premium and I don't see a footprint expansion on the horizon for Cook Memorial Public Library District since it was only recently that the Libertyville facility was expanded and the Vernon Hills facility migrated into a new building on Aspen street. So space optimization procedures are key to have in place. One example is analysis of ISBN level check out frequency data to find opportunities for facilities to complement each other's collection (reliance on inter-library loans) and minimize unnecessary duplication.

What impact have economic and technological changes had on libraries? How does a library remain relevant? How should its role in the community change?

During challenging economic time, like the ones we?re living recently, citizens have less discretionary income and they tend to rely more on public services, libraries being one of them. The library feels like a friend that never lets you down and is always there for companionship and support. The key is for the library to elevate its services from serving customer needs to delighting them so that its popularity is not vulnerable to economic rebound. If not adopted, technological advancements become a threat to the library, but if fully utilized they represent an opportunity for the library to drive incremental membership and thrive. Evidently such adoption does not stop with acquiring equipment, but more importantly by well training the staff on it and promoting the resulting services to the patrons.