Karen Stott Bersche
Karen Stott Bersche is the director of the Towanda District Library, and has held that position since July 2008. She worked for the former Alliance Library System for 13 years in numerous roles, including Director of the Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center. She is the recipient of the 2007 Illinois Library Association Skrzypek Award for Leadership in Service to the Blind/Physically Challenged. In 2005, Library Journalhonored Ms. Bersche as one of "50 Movers and Shakers – The People Who Are Shaping the Future of America's Libraries." Dir. Bersche chairs the RAILS Personnel Committee and is serving a two-year term on the RAILS Board.
Why did you decide to run for the RAILS Board?
The urging of colleagues spurred me to submit my name for the RAILS Board ballot. After some hesitation and soul searching, I realized that ultimately I would only be content with myself if I heeded the call to serve. Let the votes fall as they may! I knew it would require a great deal of my time and energy to be the type of board member I wanted to be. My motivation was a response to my colleagues, my friends, and my profession.
What are your interests and background relating to Illinois library systems and libraries?
As Director of the Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center, I worked with librarians in the five library systems of the MITBC service region, so I know many rural and urban librarians from my first-hand experience of visiting their libraries and listening to their stories. During my 13-year career at Alliance Library System, I was a management team member, CE consultant, newsletter editor, web supervisor, as well as communications and marketing director so I know the workings of a library system from the inside out. I began my 29-year career as a public library director and I currently serve as the director of Towanda District Library. My ILA experiences have helped broaden my comprehension of Illinois libraries and the cooperative spirit that makes them strong.
What do you generally envision for library systems in the future?
The very definition of "library" will change for Illinois citizens if our library systems cannot discover a sustainable path forward. Forward is the only way we have to go! We must keep our eye on the "mark" of providing cost-effective interlibrary loan (ILL) and Talking Book services for local library customers.
Survivors adapt to changing situations and identify the best way to use available resources. I want to see library systems and the cooperative spirit we learn via system participation survive in Illinois!
How do you envision the future for library systems in our state?
Illinois is not the first state that has faced the consolidation of its library systems due to dire economic conditions. We will not be the last! But I hope we will be the best…by building upon the cooperative attitudes we learned from our ties to the library systems we had in the past.
Each of us holds the key to continued cooperation – which is at the heart of a strong future for all Illinois libraries….whether building e-book collections that rival Amazon's lending library or providing enhanced delivery for more rapid ILL turnaround or more comprehensive, integrated online catalogs that assure our customers discover what they need more seamlessly.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing RAILS and how can you help meet that challenge?
Remaining cohesive in our purpose is a challenge - despite our regrets for the services which we have lost. Continuing to be grateful for what remains is a challenge. Remaining committed despite the increased distances is a challenge. Expending the extra effort to get to know new colleagues and build trust is a challenge.
The resolve of each and every member of RAILS is required to meet these challenges. None of us board members can do it without support and feedback from members. I can best help to meet the challenges by soliciting member input. Communication is more essential than ever!
What are some of your outside interests?
I am the secretary of the State Board of Rural Partners. I am active in the Edible Economy initiative, a local foods movement, in Central Illinois. My five children, six grandchildren, and my mom, who was once a library trustee, occupy me happily. In my spare time, I enjoy watercolor painting, photography, and reading - of course.
What else do you think is important for RAILS members and staff members to know about you?
I believe I can help to envision a new and promising future for Illinois library systems.