Kathy Parker is the Administrative Librarian of the Glenwood-Lynwood Public Library District, where she has served since 2002. She was recently elected as a trustee to the Tinley Park Public Library Board. She has also been elected to the board of LIMRiCC (a library insurance cooperative), where she currently serves as treasurer. She has served as the co-chair of the Metropolitan Library System's Advisory Council, and with LACONI as Treasurer, Vice President, and President. Dir. Parker is the RAILS Board’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) Designee and is serving a three-year term on the RAILS Board.
Why did you decide to run for the RAILS Board?
As a librarian with at least another twenty years of service left before retirement I felt it was important to have a seat at the table in helping to carve a new niche for library services in Illinois. With the uncertainly of funding and the future of services for the people that we serve I feel that it is important that librarians have as much input as possible into the process.
What are your interests and background relating to Illinois library systems and libraries?
I am a lifelong librarian, as I have worked in libraries since I was fourteen, where I worked in my high school library during the summers. I began working at Tinley Park Public Library when I was seventeen and have not looked back. I have worked in law firm libraries for eight years and came back to public libraries, which is my first love. As an Administrator I became aware of what library systems do for libraries. They have always provided a valuable service to the member libraries and must find a way to stay relevant in these changing times.
What do you generally envision for library systems in the future?
I envision them being less of a formal structure and more of an agency to guide members, utilizing technology and outsourcing where necessary to provide the members with what is essential to them.
How do you envision the future for library systems in Illinois?
I think library systems in Illinois need to be completely revamped. The funding is questionable and sporadic and will likely become more so in the future. Illinois is in horrible financial distress and we need to find a way to continue to receive monies, but in a sensible manner. Library systems have to find a way to spend less and provide essential services at the same time – which will likely mean sacrificing some sacred cows in the process. It is a difficult undertaking and many may be unhappy, but change is paramount to survival.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing RAILS and how can you help meet that challenge?
I think the greatest challenge will be keeping the needs, rather than the wants, of the membership at the forefront. Additional funding is not going to be available, and we don’t know when, if ever, it will be. Making the library system a lean organization that is able to provide what members need is paramount. I hope to help meet that challenge by utilizing what I do daily in my job as Administrator of a public library – look at who we are serving and ask if what I am doing accomplishes that goal, and no other.
What are some of your outside interests?
I enjoy photography and love to take photos of nature and architecture. I have recently begun to travel to Europe and hope to continue to do that as often as possible. I travel throughout the United States, enjoying the history and sights that this county has to offer.
What else do you think is important for RAILS members and staff members to know about you?
I am a no nonsense person who truly cares about libraries and the patrons who utilize them. I have made libraries my career as they are a part of my being. I think it is important to keep spending moderate in order to continue to provide the services necessary to its members.