Elizabeth Larson: Candidate profile
Name: Elizabeth Larson
Office sought: Batavia Library trustee
Family: Husband Robin, daughter Ali (age 5), Scotty the dog
Occupation: Job hunting, previously worked at a Corporate Federal Credit Union and in business consulting
Education: BA in Communication Arts and Sciences/History double major from DePauw University (in Indiana), MS in Information and Communication Sciences from Ball State University.
Civic involvement: Friends of the Batavia Public Library board of directors since 2012, Friends Representative to the board of directors of the Batavia Public Library Foundation since 2013, Library Foundation representative to steering committee of Bulldogs Unleashed 2.0 public art project in 2018. Member of the Batavia Mother's Club since fall of 2016: current Philanthropic Chair, 2018 Fox Trot 5K/10K/kids races co-chair
Previous elected offices held: None. This is my first time running for public office
What are the most important issues facing your library district and how do you intend to address them?
In 2018, the board of trustees reached out to the community at large about the Library through the Speak Up! sessions and a Library referendum on the ballot in November. The four Speak Up! Sessions concentrated on the needs of the community to help develop a long-range plan for the Library. In the referendum, voters were asked to approve a 7-cent tax rate increase for library operations, replacing a tax for construction bonds that are about to be paid off. The most important thing to do going forward would be to take the needs that the community laid out and use that information to guide decisions for both the short and the long-term plans for the Library.
Why are you running for office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what is it?
I grew up interested in politics, but never made the decision to put myself on the line. In the past few years, I began to wonder if I could make a difference or be the person to step up. While my individual voice may not change the world, it could help my community. After 7 years of stepping up onto the Board of the Friends of the Library, 6 years as the Friends liaison to the Library Foundation, working on the steering committee to a joint venture between the Library, Parks, and Schools that raised over $70K for the foundations, and in my third year volunteering with the local Mothers' Club, I know that I can help make a difference, small and large. I want to run to be that difference. I want to step forward and do my part. Decisions are made by those who show up and now is my time to show up.
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 a life long love of reading and books. This love of reading was always encouraged by the library, which let me take armfuls of books home, along with providing things like the summer reading program that encouraged reading as fun. So to be able to use my time and talents in trying to help continuously improve the Library's services for the benefit of the community would be a wonderful opportunity to "give back" to the Library and to all those who enjoy these resources.
Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
I have held my own library card for as long as I can remember. The library has always held a fun place in my life.
I got my Batavia Public Library card shortly after we moved to Batavia. My in-person library usage increased after my daughter was born. We enjoy going to youth services events and checking out books together.
What impact have economic and technological changes had on libraries? How does a library remain relevant? How should its role in the community change?
As technology changes and updates, the Library needs to keep up with the changes in order to reach the needs of the community. This updating, however, does not mean that Libraries have become irrelevant.
The main thing that Libraries can and have provided in changing times is access and space. Libraries provide: access to information/books/electronic books/media/video games; access to internet for those who do not have access at home; access to specialty databases/journals/newspapers that are not open to individuals; access to free lectures and classes on how to use technology and research, music events, story times, storybook character visits, and family events in youth services; access to trained personal to help sort through all the information out there to figure out exactly what is needed (I have never found a question that a Librarian could not answer with time to research); and access to space for the community (rooms to use for other nonprofits/organizations as meeting spaces, tutoring spaces, places to study and/or read quietly, place for kids to play). Libraries reflect and support their communities and can help users sort through all the information out there to find exactly what they need.