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updated: 2/22/2013 6:03 PM

Esther Barclay-Steel: Candidate Profile

Geneva Library Board (4-year Terms) (Republican)

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  • Esther Barclay-Steel, running for Geneva Library Board (4-year Terms)

    Esther Barclay-Steel, running for Geneva 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: Geneva

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Geneva Library Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 51

Family: Single 3 children Christopher Barclay Geoffrey Barclay Kaitlin Barclay

Occupation: Sales

Education: Waubonsee Community College Northern Illinois University

Civic involvement: SPAC - helped form Cultural Arts Commission, NRC, Skate Park Geneva Park District Master Plan Geneva Bikeway Implementation Geneva Chamber of Commerce Geneva History Center Geneva Park District Friends of the Geneva Library Geneva Beautification Committee

Elected offices held: Geneva Library Trustee, 10 years, 2 years as Secretary and 8 as President

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

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

The most important issue I believe at this time is to acquire land in the downtown area for a future Library site.

Key Issue 2

I believe we need to continue to work with our current building to try to meet the growing needs of our patrons as long as possible until it becomes absolutely necessary to begin a new building.

Key Issue 3

Continuing to provide the highest standards of services to our Geneva Library Patrons.

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?

I believe there is work I have not yet completed that I feel passionate about and that I have the knowledge and experience to continue to contribute to the Library District. We have worked extremely hard for the entire 10 years I have been on the Board to acquire property for a new Library site. We have looked at numerous locations and in recent years have been negotiating for the Cetron location. Since I have been one of the oldest members of the Board still serving I believe I have the historic knowledge of the process that will help bring this goal to fruition.

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 think the primary initiative I have had a leadership role in has been the negotiation for new land. I have also been a leader in our continued efforts to reach out to our community in several different forums. I have lead the Library in its cooperative efforts with other taxing bodies. I encourage staff to look at new ways to communicate with our community and I am the main contact for patrons when they are in need of contact with our Board.

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

Yes. I first got my card in 1972. There was a time I let it lapse while away at school. Yes I use my card.

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 without question an issue at our Library. We are land locked at our current site and the cost to expand along with the diminished functionality that would go along with expanding the current building is not in my opinion in the best interest of the district. We are working to acquire a site that will provide a location for a new Library when it is time. Our building is designed to provide for 25,000 people and we are currently serving over 31,000. While this certainly makes things difficult it is my opinion that we work to make our current building last as long as it possibly can. The economy has had a huge effect on the speed of growth in our District so it is my opinion we can wait for a while. But there are indicators that the housing market is coming back to a certain extent. We are actually constantly doing away with portions of of materials that become available electronically which has helped a bit with space needs. Many periodicals and journals can be converted. But as we move in the direction of more technology there is a greater need for space due to the nature of computer terminals and other types of equipment. The best way to look at it is while there may be less printed materials there is a greater need for equipment that supports technology which in many ways takes up more space. Simply put it is a different way of utilizing space. A statistic that may be interesting is that currently the percentage of electronic circulation is just over two percent of the total circulation of the Library. That percentage is growing constantly and we are working to keep on top of it and to make sure we can provide as much as we can to the patrons as it becomes available. One of our Libraries biggest issues is the lack of meeting space. The Libraries of the future we believe will become more of a gathering place to share information and ideas. We are feeling the strain on our physical space in this regard. We have to turn people away on a regular basis. The other huge issue which doesn't necessarily effect the physical space is our inability to provide parking. We hear complaints constantly regarding this issue. I get emails from patrons complaining about our less expansive collection and parking often.

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

The economic impact has effected us in a couple of different ways. We saw a massive slow down in new construction that would have increased our patron base. But at the same time we saw a huge jump in the percentage of patrons using the Library. We went up 18% at the highest point and now we are starting to see that level off to a certain extent. Many people who may have gone and picked up a book at a bookstore are now coming to the Library to check out that same book. We have also seen an increase in patrons who want to use our computers. People don't have the financial means at home to have web access so we see many people coming to the Library to fill out applications on line and for other uses as well. Technology is changing so quickly and it is a challenge for our staff to know exactly where we want to spend our tax dollars. A great program we have currently in place is where people come in and try out different types of technology and our staff shows them how they can use those tools to access additional programs and products that the Library provides. Our staff is also always willing to help someone who doesn't know exactly how to use that really neat electronic devise they got for Christmas. So our staff members have to be experts for that too. A Librarian remains relevant because their primary goal is to share information regardless of the type or how it is communicated. There is so much information out there it is almost impossible for an individual to understand how to navigate through the endless maize. Librarians know how to do exactly that. I see no slow down in the need or relevance of Librarians they are truly a valuable and contributing group. The Libraries role in the community is and has always been an evolution. While the primary function of sharing information never really changes the way it is communicated does. This is not new for the Library. One thing Libraries have always been very good at is responding to the needs of the community it serves. Our collection regardless of the media is a reflection of the demands of our patrons. For example along with the increase in technology we have seen an increase in our bilingual collection. The role in the community is ever-changing. I see the role of the Library as becoming more of a meeting place where people go to interact and share ideas. Technology will continue to impact how we provide the services to the community but being there to provide those service won't go away. I see the Library very much as a cultural center. I like to look at the Library as a living thing. It is not the book warehouse that some think it is. There is so much that the Library currently provides and will provide in the future.