Erin Flannigan-Davies: 2021 candidate for Schaumburg Township Library Trustee
Seven candidates for four, 4-year terms
Age on Election Day: 60
Occupation: Retired IT Professional
Employer: Retired from Allstate Insurance Company Northbrook, IL
Civic involvement: Current Schaumburg Township Library Trustee (appointed in 2019); former 15-year Sarah's Grove townhouse association president and board member; former volunteer tutor in Dist. 214 Read to Learn Program; former Book Cart volunteer at Alexian Brothers Medical Center; former 10-year volunteer teacher in St. Matthew's religious education program, 3 years as a board member; communion minister for White Oaks Memory Care in South Elgin for 3 years (while my mother was a resident)
Q. Why are you running for the library board? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. In 2019, I was appointed by the Schaumburg Township District Library Board to complete the last 1 1/2 years of a Trustee's term. I wanted to volunteer to be on the board to ensure the high standards and forward thinking of our Township Library continues and grows. I also wanted to ensure that the board is a good steward of taxpayer money. Our 5-star award winning library system, including the Central location in Schaumburg and the Hoffman Estates branch and Hanover Park branch, offer our community a myriad resources. Due to the pandemic, I have recently become more aware of the digital divide in this country and the need for digital equity. This was especially evident locally when the library buildings were closed and all of the programs were shifted to virtual online platforms such as Zoom and YouTube. Recognizing this need early in the pandemic, when the buildings were closed, our library expanded its Wi-Fi access to the parking lots of the buildings and now offers complete laptop kits for check out. Quite a few of our patrons depend upon the library for their internet access and it's essential to keep looking for ways to ensure access for all. This is an issue that really motivates me and one I would like to champion going forward. Digital access is no longer a "nice to have" for folks, but a real essential to daily life.
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. Our library really stepped up in some incredible ways as soon as the buildings had to close due to the pandemic. Most of the classes and events moved to Zoom or YouTube or via the telephone. Checkout limits were expanded for online material checkouts on Hoopla (books, movies), Kindle books, online Magazines, etc. In fact, last year, the library provided more than 4000+ project kits to patrons to pick up for children to do virtually with the Zoom or YouTube librarian or presenter. And, we opened up the ability to obtain library cards to all District 211 and District 54 families to help them and their teachers with remote learning. Also, we instituted no contact curbside pickups at the central and branch library sites, a new locker system giving patrons 24/7 access to retrieve materials -- the first in the state for that technology -- and added safety protocols (shields, ppe, spacing) and self-check machines to protect staff and patrons when the library buildings reopened. The library expanded home delivery, mail delivery and Outreach delivery to Senior facilities to ensure those that could not or chose not to leave their homes, could still get physical materials.
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, our library system expanded and enhanced our patrons' access to online materials. Through the eLibrary at SchaumburgLibrary.org, patrons have access to more than 800,000 eBooks and eAudiobooks in every genre, 5,000 newspapers and magazines, language lessons, genealogy and instructional arts and crafts to name a few. AcornTv, Quello concert site, Kanopy movie site, The Wall Street Journal and the NY Times all were newly acquired to help our Township residents be entertained, learn something new and stay connected during this unusual time. Our marketing department uses Facebook, the library website, email and the US Mail for delivery of program catalogs and to promote program reminders to every resident of the Township.
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. Over the last 16 months, I've used my business expertise and previous board experience to contribute to the budget process, policy and procedure reviews, the vetting of contracts and the due diligence necessary to ensure that the Board and the Library staff are good stewards of taxpayer funds. Because I am new to the Board, I bring an outside perspective. I ask clarifying questions regarding Library operations, funding, investments, HR policies and general policies and procedures, for example. I continue to listen and learn from the library director, library staff and current board members while sharing my views and experience of best practices learned from my corporate career. I voted yes for the $1.5 million dollar tax abatement on the second installment 2020 property tax bill to help our residents during the pandemic.
Q. Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
A. Yes, I've been a cardholder with the Schaumburg Township Library since my daughter and I moved to Schaumburg in 1989. It was one of the first things we did after unpacking! I use it monthly, actually more now since the Pandemic shutdowns, especially since I bought a Kindle and can download so much Library material (examples: books, magazines, movies, AcornTV, French language learning) to it and my Chromebook.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. In 2020, we completed a 1st floor renovation and are starting the design process, with the architects, for the second floor update of the Central library. It's an exciting time for the library, with the remodel and the challenges of the pandemic, but we continue to work to meet the needs and protect the safety of our patrons and staff all the while moving forward with projects that will be ready for everyone when get back to normal pre-pandemic life.