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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.
City: North Aurora
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Family: Married to Chris Sparks in 2008. We have twin boys, George and M.J., who were born in December of 2012.
Occupation: Elementary School Librarian
Education: Library Information Specialist M.S.Ed. from Northern Illinois University, 2009. M.A. Secondary Education (English), National Louis University, 2007.
Civic involvement: I belong to the local mothers of multiples club.
Elected offices held: n/a
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 have worked as a librarian for Nicholson Elementary School (West Aurora School District 129) for the past six years. I love my job and am always seeking opportunities to connect with the community. I feel I have a unique position in the community as a librarian for the local school district that will help forge a connection with the local public library.
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 contributions you would make.
I hope to help develop a relationship between the local schools and the public library. Both are invaluable parts of the community and can be stronger when working together. For example, Messenger Public Library is attending West Aurora School District 129's first ever "Library Exploratorium" on February 11th. Messenger will set up a table to inform students and families of their services as well as to sign up residents for library cards if necessary.
Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
I have had a library card since we bought a house in North Aurora in 2009. I bring my twin sons to the library often, at least a couple of times a month. We participated in the summer reading program and I bring them to story time when I can.
Space is an issue at many 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.
Messenger Public Library is a fantastic library that continually evolves to meet the needs of the community. I do not believe one can choose between new physical space and re-purposing existing space without examining the specific needs of the community. Messenger recently remodeled their Youth Services section without giving up part of the collection. The Youth Services "porch" was underutilized and thus re-purposed, and two workrooms became a larger single room for program and community use. Of course there are certain sections of libraries that have diminished in size over the years due to technology, such as digitization of primary resources (microfiche has been replaced with digital files, for example). I feel this "reduction" in collection size is wholly appropriate and should not be considered a sacrifice of the collection.
What impact have economic and technological changes had on libraries? How does a library remain relevant? How should its role in the community change?
As a school librarian, I am often asked how both my job and the physical space of the library remain relevant. Information is readily available to all, but that does not mean everyone is prepared to access the best and most relevant information to fulfill their needs. I teach elementary school students how to evaluate electronic resources. I help them to discover that an online encyclopedia such as World Book or Britannica has more reliable information than an individual's website. I teach them how to cite their sources and why it is necessary to do so. Technological changes have allowed libraries to add more electronic resources to their collection, which has made libraries available virtually twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. I often check out ebooks and occasionally use online databases made available through Messenger Public Library. In my opinion, this increase in accessibility only makes libraries more relevant and present in the "Information Age" and does not decrease the role of the pubic library in the community.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
Candidate did not respond.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Jack D. Franks, IL House Rep 63rd District. I remember meeting him at my high school and when he initially campaigned in 1999.
What's the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
The importance of education. I have two Master's Degrees because of that lesson!
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
I do not live in the past, so nothing.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
English. I am an avid reader and a decent writer, both of which helped me earn my educational credentials.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?
Get an education. No one can take that away from you.