Johanna 'Josie' Croll: 2021 candidate for Barrington Area Library Board
Four candidates for two 6-year terms
Hometown: Barrington Hills
Civic involvement: Village of Barrington Hills Health and Environment Committee, former member
Q. Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. As someone who was born and raised in Barrington, I know the library is an essential part of our community. During a time when people are isolated and alone, it is important to have access to the institutions we pay for as tax payers. I would push to open up the library as soon as possible.
One reason I decided to run for Library Board was my discovery that over the past number of years the board was dramatically increasing its cash holdings while continuing to increase the property tax levy. This is not good practice and shows the board is not putting the taxpayers' interests first. It is typically recommended to have cash in the general fund amounting to around half of its annual spending, equating to $2.5M for the library. The library has $6.2M in the general fund, and $9.2M across all funds.
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 currently closed, while other libraries including Schaumburg Township, Poplar Creek, Fox River Grove, Dundee, Wheaton and many others are open. They allow patrons to go inside and engage in normal activities for the most part. Not all tax payers have access to computers and the internet. Children need outlets. The current board is putting residents at a disadvantage by unduly limiting access to the resources they've paid for and need. Other village library boards have more clearly seen the essential nature of the services they provide and made sure they're fully available.
Q. Has your library seen a significant shift in the use of online materials? Has it adequately bolstered and promoted its online collection?
A. I learned that there doesn't seem to be enough copies of digital books. An example is the #1 NYT Best Seller, "The Russian," by James Patterson, which is not available to read on Overdrive and has a 7-person hold.
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. I believe that we need relevant services that benefit our community during this incredibly difficult time. For example, having 3 young children, I am very aware of how many parents in our community are struggling while children are e-learning at home. The library should be creating programs to help parents and children cope. Additionally, the library could provide assistance with resumes and job searches for our young adults looking for work, and reach out to isolated seniors.
Q. Do you have a library card? How long have you had? How often do you use it?
A. Yes, I have had a library card for many years. My children and I frequent the library. We've made friends there and enjoyed the space for children. It was an especially great resource when my kids were too young for school.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. I would like to know why the levy was raised every year since at least 2014, while cash piled up on the balance sheet. Board members are responsible for approving the budget and the levy, and clearly are not taking their financial responsibilities seriously enough. I pledge to start reducing the tax levy to save taxpayers their hard-earned money. I believe, given the current financial picture, this can be safely done every year for the next 4 years with no impact on services. I will do this not only by reducing fund balances however, but also by finding ways to save money. Such opportunities nearly always exist in situations like this, and I expect to find them at the library once I can get into the budget process.