Crystal Steker: Candidate profile
Name: Crystal Steker
City: Lake Zurich
Office sought: Ela Area Public Library Trustee
Family: Married for 36 years to Larry Steker and proud mom of two Lake Zurich High School alums: Danielle, a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and Megan, a CPA with Chicago-based real estate management firm. I enjoy outside (warm weather) activities, cooking, travel ~ and of course reading!
Occupation: Director of Technology for Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95, retiring in May.
Education: Bachelors of Arts Degree in Economics from NIU, Masters of Science Degree in Instructional Technology from NIU
Civic involvement: I was actively involved with the May Whitney PTO and Girl Scouts when my daughters were young. Through my position in the school district, I have been fortunate to be able to contribute to a cause near and dear to my heart ~ the development of children's digital citizenship skills. Last fall we implemented Securly, student iPad Internet protection software, to focus our students use of their iPad as a tool for learning (not gaming). The software helps to promote a home-school partnership of emphasizing responsible use of the technology by providing parents with weekly reports of their child's Internet activity. I have also supported several parent education nights focused on digital safety.
Previous elected offices held: None
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? No.
What are the most important issues facing your library district and how do you intend to address them?
Our community is fortunate to have a resource like Ela Area Public Library which is a nationally recognized, five-star library. In addition to providing a wide range of resources and programming, our library is also fiscally responsible as evidenced by the final bond payment in December which paid off the "mortgage" or bond issuance for the construction of the current facility Like all public libraries, however, maintaining relevance will continue to be a defining issue. Our library must constantly evolve to serve the changing needs of our community. Mobility is a key theme of the future and has the potential to allow libraries to expand outside "the four walls" providing updated services for those members who treasure books and traditional programming while supporting those who require the latest technology. A key to success will be continued commitment to EAPL's mission, "Share the Joy of Discovery," and a strong sense of community engagement.
Why are you running for office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what is it?
No one issue motivates my candidacy as much as my passion for literacy. The library mission calls to me and echoes my personal commitment to supporting lifelong learners and learning. Libraries are the heart of a community and EAPL is both a physical and virtual center for knowledge and learning in our community. I am a strong advocate for our library.
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.
As a new trustee, I would work to learn about the library polices, programs, and budget. I feel that my 22 years of experience as a K-12 school district Technology Director will provide a wealth of experience with operational issues like budget, technology, audio/ visual and digital resource purchases, as well more strategic initiatives such as programming and adult professional / career development. I have provided leadership to school district technology initiatives with positive impacts on student learning within the fiscal constraints of the school district budget. I have worked closely with the librarians at all eight District 95 schools and am responsible for the library data and circulation system. I sincerely want to use my experience and connections to be able to be of service to our community.
Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
I have a well-used and vintage library card (circa 1990) and my library usage has evolved over the years. When my children were young, we enjoyed many of the children's services, then moved on to the young adult educational programs and resources. More recently, I have been a member of a Book Club through EAPL for over ten years. February's read for our group is Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich. I have witnessed first-hand the evolution of the library with the ever-changing technology and patron needs. Through all the changes, I admire the library's ability to keep the varied needs of all patrons in mind. I'm amazed with the resources available ranging from an outstanding collection of books to audio/ video tapes to the new "Forge" maker space. Did you know you can even check out a fishing pole at our library?
What impact have economic and technological changes had on libraries? How does a library remain relevant? How should its role in the community change?
When Benjamin Franklin opened the first library in 1731, it was with the goal of improving community through access to resources people might otherwise be unable to afford. The library was a physical building and the resources were books. Then in the1990s the Internet took center stage and suddenly information was more easily available at your fingertips at home than by going to a library. Great libraries, like EAPL, re-invented themselves by leveraging their skills in evaluating information from a variety of sources and connecting patrons to new sources of (digital) information with new devices without forgetting the importance of traditional resources. Today is another pivotal point in the history of public libraries and there is an opportunity to become even more valuable to the communities served. As libraries adapt to fit with a world that is increasingly digital, we must work collaboratively to find innovative ways to continue to position our library as a community hub for learning, sharing, creating, and experiencing.