Lisa Stordahl: 2023 candidate for Cary Area Library Board, 4-year term


Town: Cary

Age on Election Day: 55

Occupation: Business and Records Manager

Employer: Barrington Area Library

Previous offices held: Cary Area Library Trustee, appointed 2022


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: Many of my fondest childhood memories involve visiting the public library with my grandmother. Money may have been tight, but the library provided access to thousands of books, new worlds, and different perspectives. As I grew, literacy and access to books continued to be important to me. I spent nearly twenty years as an elementary school teacher, teaching in California and Minnesota before moving to Cary. Libraries are essential to democracy and the greater good by providing access to information and technology, and promoting intellectual freedom and lifelong learning.

Seeing the recent rise in book ban requests in Illinois and across the country is very alarming to me! I wholeheartedly support the Library Bill of Rights ensuring citizens the right to access information presenting all points of view. I feel that libraries and their trustees should fully challenge censorship.

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

A: Looking back at the usage and collection statistics, it appears that there has been a steady increase in both the number of digital collection items available and the usage of digital materials including eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, and eMusic. The Cary Library has multiple platforms for users to access these items such as Libby, Hoopla, and Axis360. In addition, the library has many wonderful digital database resources such as Consumer Reports, Chiltons Auto Repair, Mango Languages, Niche Academy, Fold 3, (in-library use only), and Novelist among many others. There's something for everyone if they are interested.

The library has done a great job promoting these collections via social media posts, and by way of their website which has its own tab for digital resources (Digital Branch).

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: Libraries continue to play an important role in society by providing common spaces for their communities where folks can get together, have meetings, and collaborate on projects. Providing access to physical and digital resources is also important, as well as providing high interest programming for people of all ages. The Cary Area Library is well prepared for meeting that role. In addition to the meeting room, they recently finished an interior renovation adding study rooms as well as a conference room. All of these spaces are available for cardholders to book with their library cards.

An opportunity that the library might consider in the future, if resources and space are available, is to add a dedicated MakerSpace. MakerSpaces are very popular in libraries across the country and provide cardholders with opportunities to use things such as 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, and Cricut machines.

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 was only recently appointed as a trustee in August of 2022, so I have spent the past few months getting to know the sitting board and staff, as well as asking questions and learning more about the inside workings of the library. We recently approved revisions to the Policy Manual and are getting ready to hire a new Executive Director. The library has been well served by the current director, Diane McNulty, for many years. As Diane prepares to retire, the board will be tasked with recruiting, interviewing, and ultimately choosing the best candidate for the leadership position of the library. If elected, I look forward to taking part in that process.

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

A: I do have a library card. In fact, I have two! Cary is my home library, but I work at another local library, and as a staff member, I have the opportunity to have a card there as well. I have had my Cary card since we moved to the area in July of 2007. We actually chose our house because it was walking distance to the library and at the time my two sons were young and I knew we would be spending quite a bit of time there. As for how often I use my cards - let's just say they are arguably the most used cards in my wallet.

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: I have worked collaboratively to determine policies both in my role as an educator and in my current work at a local library. I think it is important to allow everyone an opportunity to share their ideas and then to be open-minded when listening to ideas that might be different from your own. Ultimately, library boards must follow legal guidelines and advice, and choose policies that will work best for the community that they serve.

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

A: I am a lifelong advocate and user of libraries. I am also a huge proponent of Intellectual Freedom and the Freedom to Read. I think most people, as long as they agree with those principles, would make a fine library trustee. What might give me a bit of an advantage is my job at another local library. I started at that library as an Assistant Librarian, working the reference desk, providing readers advisory services, and helping people with technology questions. After a few years in that position, I became the library's office manager. In my current role, I am responsible for assisting the Executive Director with annual Ordinances and Resolutions, helping with the agendas and board packets, as well as taking part in the monthly library board meetings. This has given me a peek behind the curtain to see how to make a library run efficiently and effectively, as well as provide ideas to deliver the best possible resources and services to the greatest number of people.

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