Carol Pye: 2021 candidate for Schaumburg Township Library Trustee
Seven candidates for four 4-year terms
Hometown: Hoffman Estates
Age on Election Day: 57
Occupation: Journalist, BA, Technical Communications
Employer: Freelance editor/social media manager
Civic involvement: Chair, 2020 Virtual Historical Tour, Schaumburg Township Historical Society; Public Relations/Social Media Management, Schaumburg Township Historical Society; Arts Commissioner, Village of Hoffman Estates: Co-chair Speaker Series Events; Kids Hope USA Mentor, John Muir Literacy Academy, District 54, Hoffman Estates; Registered Volunteer, Safe Families for Children USA-Cook County; Legal Guardian/Foster Parent, Safe Families for Children USA-Cook County; former director and teacher, Moms with Teens, Willow Women (class of 75+); Former Home Host, Student Impact Hoffman High School Youth Group (50+); Member, Artist's Association of Elk Grove Village
Q. Why are you running for the library board? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. The library has been an essential partner in my sons' education and my family's quality of life for decades. It has been transformational in all stages of my life. I am already a strong advocate -- a 35-year resident and patron -- and use the library extensively for my leadership role within the Schaumburg Township Historical Society. The Central Library and branches offer not just books, movies, and e-services, but a safe and fun gathering place for connection, career preparation, creative solitude, and much more!
What motivates me to serve all residents and families in our community is my joy in communicating multi-culturally and fostering a lifelong love of learning in neighbors of every age and stage of life. As a mentor at John Muir Literacy Academy in Hoffman Estates, I see that at-risk and vulnerable students can thrive with literacy and encouragement. Through Safe Families for Children, a volunteer foster agency, I became a legal guardian of a first-generation, Asian American D211 student. The library was a refuge for him and a place where his single mother could read materials in her Mandarin language. Seeing the importance of the library in their lives motivates me to run for library trustee.
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 Schaumburg Township District Library did a phenomenal job serving its patrons as the pandemic began, progressed, closed, and recently reopened.
The top priority was, and still is, the health and safety of all staff and patrons. All tier mitigations were followed since the onset, while the library continued to provide materials and e-services throughout. The library now operates safely thanks to the library staff and Board -- there is even a benevolent fine-free policy. Some of the accomplishments that should be recognized are the increased attendance at ESL classes when they started meeting virtually, an increase in senior services partnerships, library programs being streamed on Friendship Village's CCTV, and the addition of outside lockers for patrons to pick up materials 24/7, among others. The library was thoughtful of patrons as it adapted to provide curbside pickup. It also converted the cafe area for this operation and then later for patrons who needed to use library printers and scanners. The library also generously extended Wi-Fi service to the parking lots throughout this time.
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, to both questions. A trend toward more online materials was present before the pandemic, so the library was in a good position to respond. The library increased its breadth of magazines to include 3,000 more titles with the use of OverDrive. Free use of the digital Wall Street Journal newspaper was added. The amount of Hoopla movies and TV show streaming per month was increased. According to the December 2020 board minutes from the Executive Director's report, "Youth interactions have increased 26% over this time last year and some changes brought about through our closure may continue after the pandemic has ended due to popularity and interest." Also, mentioned in the January 2021 board minutes, Programs and Outreach staff stated, " ... there was a gain of nearly 500 followers on YouTube and an increase in the Summer Challenge completion rate." A look at the website calendar shows a great amount of online programming for all ages, including children's story time, craft projects, One Book/One Community program and Zoom events in collaboration with other libraries. Online services and ways to connect with the community were heavily and creatively promoted through newsletter emails and social media, especially Facebook.
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 can offer a unique frame of reference and perspective as a dedicated community leader, student mentor, and 35-year patron with firsthand knowledge of the necessity of the library for families, students of all ages, and those needing help with literacy and learning. I am a strong advocate for our library and community, and have experience communicating with people from many different cultures.
My background in journalism, public relations, and social media management, plus my leadership involvement with the Hoffman Estates Arts Commission and Schaumburg Township Historical Society offers proven service, trust, dedication, and leadership -- 4 values of the library. My passion is to see increased use of the library by families, and to keep the library an essential hub of community connection, a gathering place for exploration, and a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come. The Palatine Library recently concluded a reading challenge with a goal of 6,000 books. The goal was met, and $2,000 was given to Women In Need Growing Stronger (WINGS.) The goal was exceeded by 1,000 books, and patrons were grateful to contribute to those in need. I see this being easily adapted to the Schaumburg Township area.
Q. Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
A. Yes -- throughout my youth at the Lake Geneva Public Library and ever since I moved to Schaumburg as a journalist, 35 years ago. I subscribe to eservices, watch webinars, use Creative Bug, plus books, and movies. I use local history resources and will soon take a 6-week business Gale Course.
Having my sons apply for a library card as elementary students was more exciting than having them test for their driver's license. Library cards are preludes to adventure and "passports" to the world! Discovering different cultures through travel has been insightful and I have used the library's resources to help me plan our travel. Spending nearly a month in 4 African countries was life changing, and instilled an appreciation for more experiences to my sons. One son taught English in Tunisia and Mongolia, and another son studied in Japan through a Harper College English course. I used my card to help someone in need. I checked out the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test preparation book for an at-risk D211 student staying in my home. After I helped him procure a social security card, birth certificate, and this book, he passed the test and entered the Navy.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. My focus will be on fiscal responsibility to ensure future needs are met since change is constant, and improvements of aging buildings, inevitable. I have been attending meetings and know that the Board is embarking on a new strategic plan. Assessing the needs of 134,000 residents of all ages and stages of life in our diverse community is a priority, and I want to make certain that all voices are shared in the strategic planning process. In addition, I know that the Board will be working on a long-range technology plan, a disaster recovery plan, an updated administrative succession plan, and a reference services policy. This will keep the library well-positioned for its future.
Currently, the Central Library second floor is 22-years old and ready for a renovation, which is in the design stages. This will benefit patrons because it will improve the library's role as an innovative business center, popular meeting space, teen center, study area and more. I want to see a balanced approach to this renovation so that we improve our infrastructure while continuing to meet important social services such as ESL programs, senior outreach, meals for children, and multicultural programming.