Susan Diamond: Candidate Profile
Bensenville Library Board
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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.
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Family: husband: Allan Devitt
Occupation: management consultant
Education: AB University of Chicago
MBA DePaul University
Civic involvement: President, Board of Bensenville Community Public Library
Treasurer, Bensenville Community Foundation
Acting President, Bensenville Intergovernmental Group
Elected offices held: currently President, Library Board;
formerly Vice President, Library Board and Treasurer, Library Board;
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 reelection because I feel our library is a vital part of the community. I am very proud of all that the board and staff have accomplished in the six years that I've had the privilege of serving on the board. I want to continue to serve the community and to ensure that our library maintains its role as a lifelong learning center for residents.
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 have been instrumental in accomplishing the following: (1)expanding our DVD/Blu-Ray and audio book collections; (2)serving our Hispanic and Polish residents through expanded and updated collections; (3)bringing back Saturday hours to improve access for working adults; (4) increasing services for seniors including creating a mobile computer lab that can be brought to senior residential facilities, adding low-vision readers, and developing additional computer classes (which benefit all residents); (5) promoting these services for seniors by attending the monthly senior luncheons and communicating our programs there verbally and through handouts; (6) monitoring library expenditures to ensure the best use of our limited funds; (7) addressing the needs of an aging library infrastructure and being proactive in dealing with situations before they become major problems; (8) supporting staff development programs as our staff is the key to our library's success in the community, and (9) obtaining a grant to help fund the community's only electronic car charging station which is available free of charge to anyone.
Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
I've had library cards since I was three years old. I've had my Bensenville card for many years and use it several times a week to check out hard copy, electronic, and audio books, as well as DVDs. I also attend library sponsored programs regularly.
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.
We've done both. We received a state grant to help fund an early childhood learning center addition to our building which can also be used for other meetings. We have many families that depend on the library's assistance to help prepare their pre-school children for school, and we had space limitations which affected our ability to serve this families.
We also reassessed our reference collection and shifted to a greater use of on-line data bases as these are much more up-to-date than hard copy books and are also lower cost.
What impact have economic and technological changes had on libraries? How does a library remain relevant? How should its role in the community change?
Libraries are no longer just places to check out books, although that is still an important part of our mission. They are community centers and provide a great variety of resources for residents.
Bensenville has many low income residents. The library provides computer access for individuals who do not have it at home. We're also a comfortable place for people to spend their day, and we serve as both a cooling and warming center. We assist individuals in preparing resumes to help them reenter the work force. And, of course, our staff answers a wide range of information queries.
Since we are next to a middle school, many children spend time with us after school until their parents can pick them up. We recently added a "healthy snack cart" after school which has been very popular with our younger patrons.
We use the Village owned movie theater every month for "based on the book" films, family night movies, and Polish and Spanish films with English subtitles.
We also offer extensive programming including "story time" on the community access cable station.
Libraries remain relevant by continually reassessing their communities' needs and shifting direction as appropriate to support those needs. We conduct focus groups and community surveys to help us identify our patrons' needs.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
A library's job is to serve the community, and staff is critical to that mission. I am very proud of our library's staff and the fact that they recognize the importance of customer service. They develop innovate programming that meets the community's needs, market those programs through our app, website, and social media, and go above and beyond their job descriptions to assist anyone who comes in with a request or special need. Having a well-qualified, customer service focused staff is essential to any library, and I am committed to ensuring that we maintain such a staff.
Please name one current leader who most inspires you.
Cardinal Blase Cupich
What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?
Accept responsibility for your actions and be self-reliant.
If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?
Be more fluent in a foreign language.
What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?
Speech; I teach seminars and the skills I learned in high school have been invaluable.
If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?