Laura Caplin: 2023 candidate for Vernon Area Public Library District board of trustees


Town: Lincolnshire

Age on Election Day: 39

Occupation: Lawyer

Employer: Fox Rothschild LLP

Previous offices held: Vernon Area Public Library District trustee; VAPLD board secretary


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

A: I am seeking a second term to continue the work from my first term, some of which is just ramping up. Before the pandemic, our board had been planning an expansion to our physical building, which would provide a lot of features our community has requested - more small group study space, a larger area for kids, and hopefully a dedicated teen space. After a pandemic-enforced pause, we are now resuming the planning process. Due to my familiarity with our prior plans and my professional experience as a construction litigator, I am uniquely positioned to help with this project in its next stage. I also want to continue my work as chair of the personnel committee, where I championed the passage of the library's first-ever parental leave program and helped revamp the library's insurance contribution program for employees seeking to cover family members. These policies are not only great for our current employees, but are important recruiting tools that help the library attract top talent.

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

A: The library tracks usage of online and physical collection items monthly so that the board has constant insight into how patron usage evolves. Our online and electronic collections have expanded considerably over my first term as a trustee, and particularly during the pandemic. I believe our online collection and our provision of library programming via Zoom has kept pace with demand and has enabled many homebound patrons to more thoroughly utilize the library's resources.

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: Even in the electronic age, libraries have a critical role as places to connect in person and as a community hub. While the library should continue to evaluate its digital collection and enable greater access to library programming through remote technologies, there is no real digital replacement for in-person programming, maker spaces like the library's 3-D printer, or physical space for patrons to meet or study. The pandemic has taught our library a great deal about what works and what doesn't work in terms of electronic services, and I think we are well positioned to continue that growth into the future.

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 led the library's initiative to create our first-ever paid parental leave policy, which initially provided eight weeks of paid leave. I subsequently spearheaded our amendment of the policy to provide twelve weeks of leave. I also helped the library to upgrade its insurance coverage contribution plan for employees seeking to cover spouses or children, which had previously been a weakness when it came to hiring candidates for open positions. I have also provided pro bono legal services to the library in connection with our construction project at the outset of the COVID pandemic, which added a drive-through window to our building. Likewise, the board is often required to approve or revise contracts with various vendors for the library, and I think that my background as a litigator has been helpful in that area as well.

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

A: I signed up for a library card around when I moved to Lincolnshire in 2012 and have been a regular library user ever since. These days I am more likely to be checking out board books for my preschooler than novels for myself, but my card still gets a lot of use!

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: Over my first six years on the library board, we have been tasked with creating, amending, and sometimes terminating dozens of library policies on a wide range of topics, from unaccompanied minors in the library to personnel policies to pandemic-related access changes. Additionally, I am a partner at a large law firm (Fox Rothschild LLP) and have some policy experience from that role as well, particularly with regard to our post pandemic return to work. I also sit on the diversity and inclusion committee of the Chicagoland Associated General Contractors and on a committee for the Chicago chapter of Women in Construction. In all of these settings, I think I am a collaborative participant in policy decision-making and seek to build consensus. Ensuring that stakeholders feel heard is often key in policy development.

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

A: I am the only candidate who is an attorney, and I have often found myself drawing on my skills as a litigator over the course of my first term on the board. In addition, I believe I am the only candidate who is the parent of very young children. I think that my perspective as someone who is currently in the trenches of early childhood, so to speak, is valuable as we move forward with planning for what our library will look like ten years down the road.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.