Daniel Russo: Candidate profile
Name: Daniel Russo
Office sought: Batavia Public Library Trustee
Family: Wife, Susan, and 2 two adult children
Occupation: Retired library director and teacher, Batavia High School, 38 years
Education: B.A. in English, Elmhurst College; M.A. in English, Northern Illinois University, Library Media Certification
Civic involvement: Chair, Citizens for Batavia Public Library, successful no tax rate change referendum; Co-chair, Speak Up!, Batavia Public Library citizen engagement process; President, Friends of Batavia Public Library, many years; State Board Member, Illinois School Library Media Association, 2 years; Volunteer Tutor, Literacy Volunteers Fox Valley, ongoing
Previous elected offices held: None
What are the most important issues facing your library district and how do you intend to address them?
As a result of last year's successful no tax rate change referendum, the board of trustees must now update the Capital Asset Plan, which outlines the maintenance and repair needs of the Library for the next 20 years. Once this is completed, the Board can create a time frame for undertaking projects in a cost-efficient manner and establish a reserve fund for future maintenance. This investment in Batavia Public Library will ensure that the building and site serve the public for many years to come. Another challenge is to hire and retain highly quality staff in a competitive marketplace. The last issue that I will address is public awareness. The Library provides so many different services that the public has a hard time knowing all the programs that are available. Identifying additional ways to raise the public's awareness of the Library's diverse offerings is a good challenge to face.
Why are you running for office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what is it?
During Speak Up!, last year's public engagement process, Batavians made 10 recommendations to the Library Board. Some of the recommendations include expanding community partnerships, repurposing existing spaces to meet changing needs, and maintaining robust collections in multiple formats. I want to help implement these ideas because they will shape the future of Batavia Public 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.
Through my past work with the Library, I have developed three special interests. First, I want to make the Library Board more visible to voters. This is important so that the Board knows what the community is thinking and can make decisions in the best interest of the community. Second, I am very interested in exploring technology throughout the Library. For example, the Library has begun automatically renewing books that have not been requested by other users. This use of technology saves time and makes patrons happy. Third, I want to reach out to Batavians who are not current users of the Library. I am certain everyone can discover resources, programs, and services that will enrich our lives.
Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
I have had a library card for as long as I can remember, and I use it so often that I have memorized its 14 digit number. I am an avid user of the Library's electronic databases that offer thousands of magazines, newspapers, e-books, streaming video, and journal articles 24/7 to everyone who has a Batavia Public Library card and a PIN number. These can be accessed from any computer -- at home, at work, or on the road.
What impact have economic and technological changes had on libraries? How does a library remain relevant? How should its role in the community change?
Just look at the history of sound recordings: vinyl records, 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, MP3 files, streaming services -- libraries have always responded to changing technology and have helped the public become familiar with new technologies. For example, many people used their first computer and learned about email at a public library. Each new technology impacts the library's budget, material acquisition process, staff training, and space requirements. Balancing all of these factors is especially challenging when the public wants access to both old a new technologies simultaneously. However, each new technology provides an opportunity for the library to engage with the public in new ways. Economic changes also affect libraries. In tough economic times, the library is especially critical in connecting jobseekers with computers and internet access. And, as the flexible gig economy has grown, the library has become an important temporary office and meeting space for entrepreneurs. Of course, the library still maintains its traditional roles of providing meeting space for story times, community groups, cultural activities, and students. Libraries are more important than ever!