Jenifer Borrell: 2021 candidate for Arlington Heights Library Trustee
Three candidates for one 2-year term
Hometown: Arlington Heights
Civic involvement: Member of St. John UCC, currently hold a Director position with Friends of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, current/past volunteer experience with: AHML, Windsor PTA, RefugeeOne, Wheeling Township, One Million Degrees
Why are you running for the library board? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
I want to see the Arlington Heights Memorial Library (AHML) continue to push the envelope re-garding what is expected of a library and to remain inclusive and representative of the entire community.
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.
Yes, AHML did an admirable job of pivoting to provide services during the pandemic. Aside from the obvious switching to virtual programming, library staff innovated in many other ways. When the building was completely shut down last spring, the library worked to increase the number of items that could be checked out at one time on Kanopy and Hoopla and pro-moted other electronic resources like Cloud Library and RBdigital. They also implemented online library card applications so residents could utilize these resources even if they didn't previously have a card. I'm also proud that they ensured wifi was available near the building and in the parking garage so people who might not have internet access in their homes were still able to access that important resource. I also appreciated the bookmobile staff restocking Little Free Libraries, making an effort to get physical materials out to those in the community that may have needed them.
Has your library seen a significant shift in the use of online materials? Has it adequately bolstered and promoted its online collection?
Use of ebooks has nearly doubled since Feb 2020 and use of eAudio has doubled, so there has been a big shift to online materials! The library has done a number of things to promote eresources, from featuring them on the library homepage and social media to creating online 'bookshelves' on different topics to make the electronic collections easier to browse. Under-standing that not everyone has access to the internet or an internet-connected device, the li-brary has added additional wifi hotspots, laptops, tablets, and video streaming devices for home use through the Library of Things.
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.
My background as a librarian working in the tech field makes me a unique candidate. Through my work, I'm exposed to up-and-coming trends in technology and can share that knowledge with the library to ensure they're aware of and are able to keep up with the latest trends. Because I work for Etsy (an online craft marketplace) and am a maker myself, I also have awareness of trends in crafting and making, which will be especially handy when the Makerspace opens later this year. Etsy also has a phenomenal Diversity, Equity and Inclu-sion program and I am committed to bringing learnings and ideas from that into AHML as well.
Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
I have a library card and have had it since I moved to Arlington Heights in 2009 (Possibly the only time I looked forward to getting a utility bill, so I could verify my residency!). I use my li-brary card at least once a week.
What other issues need to be addressed?
With the pandemic disrupting the way people work, I see an opportunity for the library to ex-pand on its position as a gathering place, post-COVID. As more people elect to work from home either full- or part-time, I'd love to see the library provide creative solutions to residents who may need assistance with resources they may have previously relied on their workplace for (printing, meeting space, etc.). I also think there is an opportunity for the library to better promote the many databases and services they subscribe to that are available to residents. For example, I was looking for in-formation on water heaters and became overwhelmed by the information available on the in-ternet, so I reached out to the library and was directed to Consumer Reports. It seemed like an obvious solution but wasn't top-of-mind for me, even as an avid user of the library. I would love to see these resources promoted through storytelling as a way to make more people aware of how they can be used in their everyday life.