Marie Bass: 2021 candidate for Mount Prospect Library Trustee
Three candidates for two 6-year terms
Hometown: Mount Prospect
Occupation: Previously Executive Director, Medical Association
Civic involvement: Current Mount Prospect Library Trustee; Founder of Watercolor Artists of NW Suburbs; Mount Prospect Garden Club volunteer; Support League of Women Voters, Wings program (Mount Prospect), local PADS program, Mount Prospect Food Donation Program
Q. Why are you running for the library board? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. I currently serve on the Mount Prospect Library board of trustees and I will be on the April 6 ballot as my term expires in May. I have been a Mount Prospect resident for over 21 years and have a passion for library programs and services. I plan to continue to serve on the Mount Prospect Library board of trustees and share my passion and my experience to support the growth and vitality of the library. I have a good deal of professional experience (both corporate and not-for-profit) with serving on a number of boards and I clearly understand the role and responsibility board members. In my career as an association executive, I managed large budgets ($10 M) and oversaw the work of large staff teams.
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. During the early days of the pandemic, the board of trustees and senior staff met remotely multiple times each month. At those meetings we planned for the library closure and developed ways to better serve residents remotely. We increased our investment in online programs such as Hoopla, Libby and Kanopy for downloaded movies and books (written and audio), which reduced wait times considerably. We developed a process to renew library materials automatically as the due date approached. We permanently removed all overdue fines and allowed residents to hold library materials until the library reopened. During the library closure (March 16 to June 6th) staff (working from home) responded to patron requests remotely. On June 6, we were able to open the library for staff to support the community with such programs as parking lot pickup, home delivery of materials and remote research services. We continue to identify ways for patrons to use and enjoy library services that are easy to access and relevant to their evolving needs.
Q. Has your library seen a significant shift in the use of online materials? Has it adequately bolstered and promoted its online collection?
A. Yes, during the library closure (March 16 to June 6th), we increased the investment in our online programs (Hoopla, Kanopy and Libby) so that patrons would have greater access to online books (written and audio) and video programming (movies and documentaries). As a result of that investment, we realized a 63% increase in electronic circulation in 2020 compared to 2019. The e-media circulation total was 73,654 in 2019 and 120,162 in 2020. To promote those services, we enhanced our communications to residents. We employed frequent social media postings, print mailings and email announcements to let residents know about the virtual programs and resources available to them. We are extremely proud of the fact that despite the limited access to library services for almost 50% of the year, our overall circulation in 2020 was only 20% less than that of 2019.
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. The Library board of trustees acts as the governing body and we work together to accomplish the myriad initiatives addressed in 2019 and 2020. In 2019, we hired a new Executive Director. Also in 2019, the board of trustees and staff completed a comparison of national library standards to our staff salary levels, financial ratios and patron activity bench marks. Early in 2020, we worked on expanding the physical space at south branch to increase programs and services. We will address the south branch expansion again in 2021. When the library closed on March 16, our work focused on delivering library services and programs remotely. We established new virtual programs, virtual phone support, online library card registration, automatic renewal of materials, and increased our investment in online programs such as Hoopla, Libby and Kanopy for downloaded movies and books (written and audio). With the limited reopening in June, we established parking lot pick up, home delivery and remote research services. As an individual trustee accomplishment, I led the revision and update of the bylaws of the Mount Prospect library, along with the executive director. Those bylaws were later reviewed and approved by the full board of trustees.
Q. Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
A. Absolutely. I have always had a library card -- from the time I was 10 years old. I registered for my MP library card shortly after moving to Mount Prospect 21 years ago. I am a frequent library patron and visit the library at least weekly. I almost always have library materials in my home or downloaded on my iPad.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. The library board of trustees has comprehensive plan for work in 2021. In the coming year we will be addressing: What the "new normal" post-pandemic programs and services will look like for the Mount Prospect library; a high-level strategic planning initiative with patron input; a focus on enhancing library services, resources and programs to meet the evolving needs of residents; a focus on equity, diversity and inclusion in library activities; South branch expansion -- in communication with the Village of Mount Prospect. We have a full agenda of work for the upcoming year. It has been my honor and privilege to serve on the Mount Prospect Library board of trustees and I'm delighted to volunteer my skills and experience to support the residents of Mount Prospect. I am excited about the potential for enhanced programs and services at the Mount Prospect Library.