Jennifer Lucas: 2021 candidate for Barrington Area Library Board
Four candidates for two 6-year terms
Occupation: Attorney (no longer practicing); community volunteer
Employer: No current employer; past employer Winston & Strawn in Chicago.
Civic involvement: Founder of Go Green Barrington, organization dedicated to raising awareness and inspiring individual action (www.gogreenbarrington.org); secretary and board member, Barrington Area Conservation Trust; board member, Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club and New Member of the Year in 2019-20; Environmental Advisory Council for Village of Barrington, 2018-Present; secretary and board member, Barrington Broncos Hockey Club; Daughters of the American Revolution, Signal Hill Chapter, Conservation Chair; League Women Voters of the Palatine Area, Environmental Committee; Impact100 Chicago, 2018-present, internal Communications Chair; past president Fox Point Homeowners' Association.
Q. Why are you running for the library board? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. As shown by my involvement with multiple community organizations, I have a passion for serving others. By continuing my role on the Barrington Area Library Board, I will be able to expand my commitment to serve to people of all ages, races, and economic spectrums. The Library offers me the opportunity to use my legal background and my experience with myriad organizations to serve people of all walks of life and to contribute to the economic, educational, and cultural vitality of our community.
The Barrington Area Library has a spider web effect on our community, reaching out in multiple directions and multiple ways to lift people up and to connect them with people, resources, and information. No other organization has the ability to cut across ages, economic divisions, ethnicities, or even the ability to cross the borders of the various municipalities within the Library district. I would be honored to be part of this organization that has the power to welcome and help others, to unite us, and to give us the means to be better individuals.
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. The Barrington Area Library is doing an incredible job of serving its patrons during the pandemic, keeping materials and programs available when people need them more than ever. Customers literally have said that the library's offerings have kept them sane. While maintaining the health of staff and customers, the staff created curbside pickup, borrow by mail, and expanded the call-in service for questions. Patrons even can request a personal "book bundle," and library staff will create a selection of books of a certain genre. As always, the Library is about more than books -- for example, patrons could pick up "Take and Make Kits" to keep busy at home.
Of course, the Library's services are much more than physical materials! To adapt to COVID, the Library moved its programs to zoom and YouTube, drawing in hundreds of participants each month, and it has been sharing its registration and zoom capability with community groups for their programs.
Realizing that citizens were facing economic hardship from loss of jobs in the pandemic, the Library even created a reading challenge, in which local organizations collaborated to raise funds for local food pantries.
Q. Has your library seen a significant shift in the use of online materials? Has it adequately bolstered and promoted its online collection?
A. During the pandemic, so many of us have found the digital materials to be a boon. Over the year, patrons checked out over 200,000 digital materials. When the COVID lockdown started, the use of digital materials jumped about 22%. Taking the average of the entire year of varying quarantine restrictions, the overall increase was about 13% compared to prior year. The Library staff communicated in a variety of ways and answered questions by phone, by email, and on social media. They added more digital material, more Spanish language titles, and more resources supporting equity and diversity. The breadth of the online programing is simply amazing with everything from story hour to adult education -- all being presented in new and engaging ways. Many programs are being recorded creating an archive for future use.
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. Just after I was appointed to the Library Board in the summer of 2020, I was thrilled to help the Library connect with Barrington Breakfast Rotary Club to fill the Library's funding needs for the fully accessible native teaching garden that it is establishing in the open area behind the library. We have learned during the pandemic that outdoor learning spaces are more important than ever, and this will serve that function as well as teach the importance of native planting in landscaping. This is an example of how my involvement and connections with the community will help me better serve the Library.
Q. Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
A. I have had a library card with Barrington Area Library since I moved to Barrington about twenty years ago. At first, I used the card to check out materials for my three children, to reserve lessons in the Maker Lab for my son, and to reserve rooms for meetings when I was the Fox Point Homeowners' Association president. In addition to using my card to obtain hard copies or digital materials, in recent years, I used the card to schedule sessions with the technology staff as I was launching Go Green Barrington and needed help creating a vector logo. Through Go Green, I have worked as a partner with the Library on several programs including the One Earth Film Festival, which drew in hundreds of guests.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. One of my main concerns is that the Library continue to reach the segments of the community that may not be aware of or may not be using the Library's services. The Library recently hired a new Executive Director, and this was the topic of my first questions to her. The Library will use new metrics and new forms of messaging to make sure that people of all walks of life know what the Library has to offer. This will remain a high priority for me. I have offered to do outreach at events such as community meals to tell more people about how they can access Library materials and services. Now more than ever before, the library is a lifeline of support. A parent can find tutoring help for a child through the library. A person changing jobs can find career services. A homebound person can find free online webinars, craft videos, estate planning, and more. I am committed to helping more people reach out to the hand that the Library offers.