Vanessa Villarreal: 2021 candidate for Lake Villa Public Library District trustee
Four candidates running for three, 4-year terms
Occupation: Children's librarian (FT) and a youth and school services assistant (PT), Cook Memorial Public Library and Vernon Area Public Library
Civic involvement: Election judge
Q. Why are you running for the library board, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. I am running for the first time. I have lived here in the district and used the library since I was a kid. Giving back to my community and supporting library staff is what motivated me to run for the Lake Villa Library Board.
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. I would first like to say that I think the library staff did an amazing job when the building was closed. I am sure it was difficult for them to manage patrons expectations while keeping them safe and also providing a way for us to access materials while they were closed. Creating the curbside pickup is a perfect example of this! As a heavy library user myself, I haven't seen a disruption in anything. In fact, removing fines actually increased my love for the eLibrary during the pandemic. I was able to continue to enjoy my eBooks from home, if I held on to items too long or if they were in quarantine. One time, I had a book so long it did disrupt my usage but I called and talked to circulation who just had me show them the book and they were able to remove it from my account so I can continue to use my library card.
Q. Has your library seen a significant shift in the use of online materials? Has it adequately bolstered and promoted its online collection?
A. Personally, I have been using more of the online materials. The library has a great section on the front page of their website dedicated to Downloadable resources. When I asked about the online materials usage, it appears that the Consumer Reports was accessed more online. A perfect example of Lake Villa promoting their online collection, is through their Book Clubs. I am a part of the Books on Tap group and they are always suggesting or telling us where to find book club books virtually (and still providing physical copies).
Q. In light of our experiences with COVID-19, what safeguards/guidelines should you put in place to address any future public health crises?
A. It is truly hard to predict the future, COVID-19 being a prime example. I really appreciate and love what Lake Villa Public Library was able to do during this time. As a patron I never really felt any extreme disruption to my accessibility to materials. Going forward going over the COVID procedures and making sure they reflect any sort of public health crises would be ideal. Also, communicating with the staff and listening to their wants and needs for the crisis is key. They are the frontline workers and would have more knowledge from the experience with working directly with the public.
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 am non-incumbent, I would make sure that library staff is heard and patron needs are met. Some of the contributions I would like to make to the library are to have a credit card reader for patrons to pay by credit card/debit card if they do not have change for print jobs. I would like to see our library district with a Bookmobile. We have so many people in our district and many of them are unable to make it in. So why not provide them with the accessibility that a Bookmobile can offer.
Q. Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
A. I have had a library card from Lake Villa Library since I was 9/10 years old. I use it frequently. I use it to get materials from my library, I have been participating in their amazing books clubs, and to use their eBooks/eAudiobooks collection. I love that if I can't find it at Lake Villa, that they will use their Interlibrary loan system to get it for me from another library.