Jennifer E. Hovanec: 2023 candidate for Villa Park Public Library Board


Town: Villa Park

Age on Election Day: 41

Occupation: Executive director

Employer: La Grange Public Library

Previous offices held: Villa Park Public Library Trustee (2020-present)


Q: Why are you running for the library board, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?

A: As a certified librarian myself, I know that living in a town that is supportive of its library adds value to the community as a whole. I am an avid e-audiobook reader, so the services that VPPL offers are quite important to my daily life.

Being a library trustee and giving back to an important civil institution is what motivates me to run. Libraries are one of the few places left in the world that opens its doors to anyone who chooses to utilize their services. I am proud of the way that Villa Park Public Library serves the educational and entertainment needs for visitors of all ages.

Q: Has your library seen a significant shift in the use of online materials? Has it adequately bolstered and promoted its online collection?

A: Absolutely! The library's reach into the community and promotion of all collections is second to none. The staff at VPPL work very hard to represent many interests and ideas for all ages. eBooks, audiobooks, streaming services ... they are costly, and our library is fiscally responsible enough to make them all accessible to us. The staff manages the collection so well!

Q: What do you see as the future of role of libraries in the electronic age? How well prepared is your library for meeting that role? What new steps must the library begin taking?

A: The library is an institution that does excellent work maintaining strong, historical roots while still reaching out for new ideas and what is next. Libraries are consistently on the forefront of fighting misinformation with facts, classes, databases and materials.

The library has done so much work to be sure that the materials are available to me and my neighbors in Villa Park. The funding for these items is always going to be a big expenditure, and the library must continue to invest and spend wisely so that they are fortified for years to come.

Q: 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.

A: I am a member of the Villa Park Public Library Policy Committee. We've reviewed and refreshed policies relating to many topics: room usage, personnel policies, library card expansion and more. The library board has supported expenditures for tools to help promote outreach into our farthest areas of the community, and I am glad to have voted in favor of putting the money back out into the community. I am also on the strategic planning committee, which will be working to develop the work of the Villa Park Public Library for years to come through a road map of public and staff feedback.

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

A: I got my first library card way back in second grade! However, I got my Villa Park Public Library card about 5 years ago, when my husband and I moved to our home.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your library board.

A: The best part about going through policies with the board is that we do not always agree. We are able to talk through those ideas and then focus on what is going to be best for supporting the Library as a whole. We listen to each other's opinions and experiences, and then we look at our role as Trustees. Does the policy support a workplace that allows the library to do what it was built to do? Do we have parts that we'd like to come together on and change?

In my 3 years on the board, I do not think we have come to a point where we do not reach a consensus. We don't always agree, but we always respect the library and its role.

That is the goal of a trustee; to uphold the library's mission and values through fiscal responsibility. That means using your voice and your experience to contribute to those conversations.

Even though I've been a library worker since 2009, I learn new things as a trustee every meeting.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I love Villa Park. I choose to live here, to spend my money here and volunteer my time and expertise here. We sought a home in a community that celebrated diverse ideas and people, and we found it here. As a library worker myself, I have a unique viewpoint that allows me to see both sides of the table. I know what happens on the front lines of libraries, and I know what it takes to volunteer your time in a community, too.

Being a trustee for Villa Park Public Library means that I am able to ensure that the public library, a place that gave me so much throughout my life, will be there to give to everyone living in Villa Park, too.

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