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updated: 2/22/2013 6:03 PM

Mark Biewald: Candidate Profile

Fox River Valley Library Board (4-year Terms)

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  • Mark Biewald, running for Fox River Valley Library Board (4-year Terms)

    Mark Biewald, running for Fox River Valley 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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City: Algonquin

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Fox River Valley Library Board (4-year Terms)

Age: 49

Family: Married to Patti Lesiowski Biewald Two daughters - Danielle age 16 and Courtney age 13

Occupation: Director of Compliance and Capability with Feeding America

Education: Bachelor of Science - Loyola University of Chicago

Civic involvement: past board member - Algonquin Lake in the Hills Interfaith Food Pantry

Elected offices held: None

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

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'm running for elected office for the first time. I simply want to contribute to the community in which I live and set an example for my children about the value of volunteerism. When I think about the challenges that the Fox River valley library district faces I see three unique opportunities: 1. How does the district continue to operate a sustainable revenue and cost model while facing a flat or declining tax base? 2. What is the impact of the digital age on traditional library revenue models, programming, and visits to brick and mortar facilities? At what point does the district operate at the next level of virtual programming and services? 3. How can the library become a catalyst for holistically impacting the lives of the 21% of the public school kids who use the Fox River Valley libraries but also live in poverty?

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.

As a trustee that was recently appointed to fill an unfilled term, I bring the following skill sets to the boardroom: 19 year resident of the village of Algonquin and patron of the Fox River Valley public library services. Financial expertise gained as associate controller of a $285M business unit and controller of a $38M business unit. Superior income statement skills. Solid knowledge around needs assessments, program development and program evaluation. Strong nonprofit fund development skills and knowledge. Formal nonprofit board governance training. Inquisitive mind, a love for technology, a passion for reading, and a sense of humor.

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

I have a library card that I obtained when my family moved to Algonquin in 1993. Myself and my family are consumers of the library and its services.

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.

In my opinion space is a very real issue at the main Dundee facility. The recent opening of the branch in West Dundee on Randall road, allows the district to better serve its patrons that live west of the Fox river, some of which could experience a 20-25 minutes car ride to the main Dundee facility. I believe the role of the library in the 21st century will be of a community hub and gateway for other community based services. As such, I do think larger facilities, or at least a larger facility than the current Dundee facility, will be needed. But, I don't anticipate filling a larger space strictly with books. I envision more community space and meeting rooms, a large technology lab, a video and sound studio, a cafe, a community referral center, all available to the diversity of residents that the library districts currently serves. A vibrant library is vital to a healthy and vibrant community.

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

Very recent research by the Pew Research Center indicates the population of e-book readers is growing. In the past year, the number of those who read e-books increased from 16% of all Americans ages 16 and older to 23%. At the same time, the number of those who read printed books in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population ages 16 and older to 67%. We can anticipate, in my view, this trend continuing to accelerate in the short term. I believe the impact of e-reading will be transformative for libraries and I envision a day, soon, were libraries will be loaning out e-readers along with print books. Frankly, libraries remain relevant by adpating their business model to the realities of the digital age that we all live in. My vision for libraries is really having them looking more like a community hub for all of the services that a community has to offer to its residents. I also see the library being a community meeting space, much like a Starbucks, with a cafe, reading tables, meeting rooms, WiFi, along with literary based entertainment and educational opportunities. One of the great advantages of living in Chicago is that we have examples of many of the innovations that I mentioned occurring at libraries in metro Chicago. We have a terrific opportunity to learn from our brother and sister libraries across the area and owe it to our community to transform the Fox River Valley Public Library District into a leader for library innovation in 2013 and beyond.