John T. Larkin Jr.: 2021 candidate for Helen Plum Library board
Seven candidates are running for four, 4-year terms on the Helen M. Plum Memorial Public Library District board of trustees in the April 6 election.
They are incumbents Jason Brandt, John T. Larkin, Jr. and Susan Wiggins, and newcomers Kristin Anne Dittrich, Jennifer Erickson, Julie Kowalski-Schmidt, and Kelly Ann Simms.
The Daily Herald asked candidates to respond to a questionnaire about library issues.
Occupation: Assistant Director of Buildings and Grounds, Addison Elementary District 4
Civic involvements: Helen Plum Library Trustee
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, and if so, what is it?
A: I am running for reelection because I feel strongly about the library being a focal point of a community. Our library is in the process of building in a new location and I want to see the project through. I have been advocating for an updated library since I first ran for trustee and am excited about the opportunities that the new building will offer.
Q: Did your library continue to adequately serve its constituents during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to continue providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A: In order to abide by state and city mandates during the pandemic, the library began an online checkout program. Community members could check out a book online and then drop by the library where they were met by a library member who would give them the book in a paper bag. This allowed the community to continue to access library materials without fear of transmission of the virus.
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 has seen a large increase in requests for online materials. Especially during the beginning of the pandemic last March and April, many students and adults found themselves at home wanting to read. Our large selection of online materials was easily accessible to the public. Our website as well as mail that is sent to community members encourages everyone to utilize our online materials.
Q: In light of our experiences with COVID-19, what safeguards/guidelines should you put in place to address any future public health crises?
A: If any future public health crises arise, I believe that our library will be in a good position to meet the needs of the public. Our online checkout and pickup system worked well and we can reimplement that program at any time. Additionally, we have increased the number of online materials that are available due to increased demand. This is a tool that hopefully our community will continue to embrace even when this current pandemic has ended and can continue to use in the face of any public health crises.
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: As a board member, I have advocated for the community in everything that I have done as a trustee. As the vice president of the board, I supported the construction of a new building in order to better provide for our community. I pushed to ensure that new and improved features of the library will be put in place in the new location and strive to keep the process of construction moving forward.
Q: Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it
A: Yes, I have had a library card for several years and use it often. My family and I all utilize our library cards to borrow books, movies and magazines frequently.