Debbie Breihan: 2023 candidate for Lisle Library District board
Age on Election Day: 57
Occupation: Senior Center and Recreation Program Manager
Employer: Lisle Park District
Previous offices held: None
Q: Why are you running for the library board, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: I have been devoted to community service for most of my adult life. Whether it has been through church, school or other community organizations such as PADS or the Kiwanis I have always been active on boards and committees where we work to make the community a better place to live.
Since 2016 I have been actively working with local candidates and have taken a real interest in how local government works. I feel the Lisle Library is one of the hidden gems in our community and with the completion of the renovation, it will be an exciting time to be part of the board as its role in the community evolves.
Q: Has your library seen a significant shift in the use of online materials? Has it adequately bolstered and promoted its online collection?
A: Absolutely! I would say that since the Spring of 2020 the online library has become the primary resource for many folks. People who had not used the library in years tapped into databases and looked to the library for information and entertainment. I think the library could definitely do more to promote their online collection and that will be something that I plan to focus on when I am elected to the Board.
Q: What do you see as the future of role of libraries in the electronic age? How well prepared is your library for meeting that role? What new steps must the library begin taking?
A: I see libraries as the information hub of the community. Librarians are necessary to disseminate the information and guide patrons to the data and resources they need. There is still a need for a brick-and mortar library where both children and adults can come together and enjoy programming and socialization.
Libraries will need to continue to be flexible and meet the community's needs. Across the county libraries are offering a variety of interesting collections for check out that keep items out of our landfills and help our pocketbooks. As far as technology goes, increasing Wi-Fi strength and offering access to printers including 3-D printers that may be out of reach for the average household will be of great benefit to community members.
As a board member, I will be looking to create a task force to lead us in a plan to map out some short term and long-term goals. With an updated building and a top notch staff the Lisle Library is well positioned to exceed these goals.
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 owns lots on both sides of the property. I would like to see at least one of these lots developed into an area that could be utilized as an extension of the library with an outdoor programming space as well as meeting and working spaces complete with Wi-Fi access.
Q: Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
A: I don't remember exactly when I got my first Lisle Library card, but I can tell you that I remember going to the library when it was an old two-story building on Front Street where Evviva sits today! I've had my current library card since moving back to Lisle in 1997. I almost always have an e-book checked out and physically visit the library about once each month.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your library board.
A: For most of my career, I have worked as part of a team. We had to make many decisions as a team. Most of the time, they came easily, but at times we had to work for a solution and not just a solution that we could live with but one we were all satisfied with. One of the best ways I have found to sort out our options was to brainstorm our ideas and thoughts and discuss them all, giving time and respect to each one.
I've learned that really listening to what people are saying and being willing to let go of a previous notion and change your mind when it makes sense earns you respect from your teammates and makes you a more effective team member and leader.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: As a lifelong Lisle resident, I am invested in this community. I grew up in Lisle, I raised my family in Lisle, I work in Lisle, and I care deeply about the people of this community. Working in the Youth Services Department at the Lisle Library was one of my first full-time jobs after graduating from college.
I have worked in the public sector all my career and understand what it is like to work with a board. I am familiar with library policies and procedures and understand programming and staffing. I am excited to showcase the gem that the Lisle Library is to the community!