RAILS Board Election

Voting is open for the 2021 RAILS Board of Directors election from 8:00 a.m. on April 21 through 5:00 p.m. on May 7. Scroll down for profiles of all candidates.

Voting begins at 8:00 a.m. on April 21 and ends at 5:00 p.m. on May 7.

Each RAILS member library may cast only one ballot on behalf of the library agency. A library agency is the school district, main public library building, etc., rather than the individual school building, library branch, etc.

Each library designates one person who will vote; generally, it will be either the library director or board president.

You may vote on all seats, regardless of your library type.

RAILS is deeply committed to promoting and fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and we believe that it is very important to have a board that reflects the diversity of the RAILS membership in terms of race, ethnicity, age, geographic location, staff position, and other factors.

Map of Current Board and 2021 Candidates

red pin 2021 Board Candidate

black star Current Board Member - Term expires in 2021

green star Current Board Member - Term not expiring this year

At-Large Seat Candidates

Patricia Smith

Robert W. Rowe Library, Library Director

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I would like to serve to represent Small/ Rural Public Libraries. I feel they have underrepresented in the past and feel this is a wonderful opportunity to give a voice to us.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Community Engagement; Nonprofit Experience; Public Libraries

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I feel that by having a Small/Rural Public Library it will give an opportunity for board members from large libraries to learn more about the needs that we in small libraries face.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

The deep divide that is facing our country and trickling down to libraries, I find that the issue of the Dr. Seuss Books as an example that has divided public libraries and trying hard to be more diverse and inclusive while still remaining relevant to the communities in which we are located.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

I am a member of ARSL and have worked my way up the ladder starting as an adult page, to circulation clerk, than assistant library director and now library director. So I have worked in many roles of public library positions. I feel this may give me a broader view which might be useful to the Rails Board and the challenges they face.


Sarah McHone-Chase

Northern Illinois University, Head of User Services

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I am currently serving a term on the RAILS Board, and it has been some of the most interesting and genuinely valuable work that I have done. I have personally gained a lot already, and I am eager to continue. I am especially excited to learn more about the ways in which libraries of different types can support each other and explore ways that we can work together. "Advocacy" is a professional interest of mine: I think libraries are stronger together, and when we are able to articulate each others' needs as well.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Academic Libraries; Advocacy/Outreach; Education/Instruction; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Human Resources; Law/Legal; Program Evaluation; Strategic Planning

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I think my experience on RAILS is a benefit: I understand how the board works already and I participate on the board fully, in several capacities, including on the Executive Committee, the Advocacy Committee, and the DEI committee. Although I do not hold the Academic seat on the board, I nonetheless think that my academic library background brings value to the board as we consider the needs and viewpoints of different types of libraries. I think some of my strongest skill sets are in planning, and I bring that to the board as well. I am service-focused, and I work hard on thinking about an issue from multiple viewpoints.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

I think Advocacy is the major challenge, among our users, our communities, our administrations/parent institutions, our state and federal legislators, and among each other. We need to understand what our users/community need from us and articulate those needs so that we can get the resources to address those needs. Advocating for ourselves and our users/community absolutely permeates everything else that we do.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

My first work in libraries was in resource sharing, and I value this work very much--having a strong consortium to share materials opens up a wealth of knowledge to our users. I co-chair CARLI's Resource Sharing committee, and I also am Vice-Chair/Chair Elect for ALA's RUSA STARS, which deals with resource sharing. RAILS also provides many opportunities for professional development that help our libraries be stronger together. I have served on RAILS now for 2 years, and I am particularly passionate about the work that has been done in the Advocacy Committee, especially as we talk about ways for libraries to support each other. The DEI Committee is a nascent effort, but has much passion behind it and I am truly excited about what we will accomplish there: that work will really benefit all of our libraries and the profession. Outside of RAILS, I have extensive experience in policy, procedure, strategic planning, and copyright/licensing.


Victoria Blackmer (she/her)

Robert R. Jones Public Library, Assistant Director

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I am an advocate for RAILS, but I want to further my advocacy in order to become an ambassador for its member libraries. I believe in effecting positive change and want to be included in the establishment, revision, and approval of policies in order to create a more inclusive organization focused on continuing education and technology support for the long-term future. I hope to gain insight and experience as a board member that will give me a more complete understanding to the breadth and comprehensiveness of RAILS's organization.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Marketing/Public Relations; Nonprofit Experience; Program Evaluation; Public Libraries; Strategic Planning; Technology

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

My inclusion to the Board of Directors would benefit the organization because I am a supporter of RAILS and have an eagerness to participate in meetings. I am an organized individual, always well prepared for meetings who is anxious to serve on committees as required. I have a strong desire for stewardship to others, who is supportive but willing to express my own opinions. Above all things, I strive to learn as much as possible.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

The major challenge facing libraries today is the persistent need for staff and services to represent the diverse populations and interests their community represents. Libraries as institutions should be committed to ensuring equity of access to information while supporting initiatives that make information more open and affordable for their users. Library staff and boards should actively confirm that they represent the diversity of their community, local, and regional communities while demonstrating a strong service ethic in all interactions. Furthermore, library staff should be active in professional organizations and take part in groups to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

I believe in resource sharing and actively seek to help libraries promote and expand their services through a commitment to share knowledge and expertise. I am committed to undertaking a variety of initiatives to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the library profession. I see the significance in every library's story and seek to help all library types show their value to patrons. It is my goal to expand access to library resources and services to the under-served and underrepresented residents of Illinois.


Jaime "Jimmy" Gonzalez-Vicker

Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District, Technology Librarian

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I strive to ensure that I am an involved member in my professional community, and I think this would be a perfect opportunity to contribute on a state-wide level. I am also inspired by the work that RAILS does for equity and inclusion in the field, and I believe I could share and learn a great deal as a serving board member.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Community Engagement; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Nonprofit Experience; Program Evaluation; Strategic Planning; Technology; Makerspaces

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I bring a unique perspective. Not only as a bi-racial, Mexican-American, but also as a makerspace leader in IL libraries. As libraries continue to grow and develop from new and unique perspectives and experiences, I believe I posses a fresh approach to Latinx representation, accessibility strategies, and technology in libraries.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

In some ways, I think that it is no longer just the pandemic itself, but how we navigate through the aftermath. As we see acts of inequity and white supremacy, libraries can stand as allies and true safe spaces for those who may need our help and welcoming approach. Additionally, we can become stronger advocates not only for patrons and visitors why may need our help, but for staff as well. Another major obstacle is inclusion and access. As libraries grow and expand their services, best practice methods must be updated accordingly to reflect said change. This can be strategic change as well as case-by-case basis change.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

I would love the opportunity to share my unique experience in libraries at the state-wide level (and beyond). As we see how libraries have continued to grow and advocate despite recent roadblocks and struggles, it is absolutely inspires me to grow as an advocate with RAILS. Additionally, with my background in makerspaces, I strive to ensure that I professionally combat systemic stigmas that we may face as library staff. As makerspaces and access to emerging technologies are sometimes seen as a non-traditonal library services, my experience can apply first hand on how to ensure continued equity and inclusion as to new and growing library services and opportunities. Finally, I would like to stand as an advocate for those in libraries who identify with underserved communities and also those who identify as biracial and Latinx. Representation is a powerful thing and I would love to further help those who have historically been underserved feel and become empowered and represented.


Tim Prendergast

Hodgkins Public Library, Library Director

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

As a relatively new library director, I have been very impressed with the RAILS organization, and would like to become a more active member. I hope to gain an even deeper understanding and better appreciation of the organization over the course of a term.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Education/Instruction; Program Evaluation; Public Libraries; School Libraries; Technology

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

RAILS would benefit from my involvement because I have a wide range of library experience at special, academic, school and public locations throughout the RAILS service area. These experiences have ranged between full time and part time; and from the seat of an assistant to an administrator.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

Today, it is about re-engaging our patrons to bring them back to our libraries. We need to push our services more than ever because we need to justify our place in the community. This is necessary, not only to recover from the pandemic, but also because of the rising costs of taxes and potential need for referenda due to the un-funded minimum wage mandate.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

As a former school library educator, I understand the challenges of resource sharing for both students and teachers. There is so much information out there, and I believe there needs to be an initiative to reach out to the schools to ensure they are utilizing the local public library to improve utilization of resources and potentially partner for cost savings. I believe that the library profession as a whole has always attempted to be progressive and inclusive; but every organization can strive to do better. I have always had the privilege of working in diverse environments, and would continue to push RAILS and member libraries to do more. While some of us don't work in or have never worked in schools, I believe that we are educators at our core. One of the things all educators must do, is to make sure we are providing opportunities to our underserved residents. At the schools, it is making sure that all kids have at least a meal a day. At the libraries, I believe that it is ensuring equity to access of materials. Organizationally, we need to continue to work with our local, state, and national legislators to ensure we are able to provide access to technology and materials, with recognition that libraries to incur costs associated with that access.


Rosie Williams-Baig

Nancy L. McConathy Public Library, Director

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

As a new Director, I look for ways to both expand by knowledge and also bring opportunities to my small library.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Marketing/Public Relations; Public Libraries

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I feel I have many ideas that will benefit RAILS. I am very interested in Diversity, Policies and Funding especially for smaller libraries like mine.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

Inclusion and funding. Libraries, like all institutions are facing many issues today regarding how to be inclusive without offense. Additionally, many smaller libraries lack the funding to hold appropriate training for race and inclusivity.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

As the Director of a small library, I have had to try to do a lot with very little. I believe those skills will help me work to achieve the goals that RAILS has. Additionally, diversity and inclusion are very important to me. As a woman of color raising tri-racial children, it is my immediate goal to make this world a better place for the generations to come.


Robin Helenthal

Peoria Public Library, Manager of Collection Development Services

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I am interested in serving on the RAILS Board to work with and gain knowledge from other leaders in the library community. I have worked on many ILA committees over my library career and this would give me an opportunity to work and participate in helping our consortium build for the future needs of our libraries, our patrons and our staffs. It will also help me to gain an understanding of how our consortium works for the benefit of all its member libraries from the smallest single building library to one with many branches.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Academic Libraries; Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement; Education/Instruction; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Law/Legal; Nonprofit Experience; Program Evaluation; Public Libraries; Special Events; Specialized Libraries; Technology; Unserved/Universal Service

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I feel that RAILS would benefit from my involvement on the board from the diversity and variety of experience that I can bring. I have worked in a university library as a student worker, a library clerk and as an Library Technical Assistant. I have worked in a special library, I was a newspaper librarian for many years doing research and updating online digital copy. The past few years, I have worked in public libraries, first as an Adult Services Librarian and currently as the Manager of Collection Development Services, overseeing the selection and acquisitions of materials both physical and digital for the main library and multiple branches.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

Coming out of the pandemic, we will be dealing with a new "normal" and we are going to need to continue to find ways to help our communities and patrons become more comfortable coming back into the library buildings, participating in programs and getting them the information they need to make informed decisions. We also need to work and support our staff as they deal with the changes that will be part of getting comfortable with this new "normal" and the challenges that it will bring. Major challenges facing libraries today is staying relevant to meet our patrons and communities needs. Diversifying our collections, making them easily accessible to those who come into our building and meeting the needs of others who want to use our collections virtually. Recognizing there is a digital divide and finding ways to make our digital collections accessible to our patrons. As budgets get tighter, finding ways to work with other libraries and community partners to share resources and spaces to meet the needs of our patrons and communities.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

In my current position working with selection and acquisitions of materials both physical and digital, I have experience with sharing resources as part of the Resource Sharing Alliance, in which, we share a catalog and materials with other libraries in that group and the ADML/Overdrive of which I do selection for that collection. I have worked in planning RSA day and training on digital resources. I was on the ILA Diversity Committee for several years and also served as a co-chair. I served on the ILA Best Practices Committee for several years and served two terms as a co-chair. I was a member of the ILA Reporter Committee for one term. I served a term on the Illinois Special Libraries Board during the time I worked as a newspaper librarian.


Jose Maldonado

Naperville Public Library, Library Manager

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

As libraries become more diverse and connected to the world (in ways that we have previously not seen) I believe it is my responsibility to participate and give voice to this evolving network of libraries. I want to bring my experience and knowledge, as well as my a Latinx voice to this large group of member libraries.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Human Resources; Public Libraries; Strategic Planning

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

Having diversity in any group is beneficial alone for the perspectives of those unique life experiences diversity brings. As it stands, I don't believe there is currently much diversity within the group of trustees, and I would like change that.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

Traditionally, libraries have faced major challenges in funding and support. Especially with the added complexities of operating during a global pandemic. I, however, believe we are seeing new serious challenges relating to trust and social unrest. Trust is a fragile commodity in our community and the battle to maintain our trust with it is declining due to the restriction's libraries have had to make to keep people safe during the pandemic. There are more and more instances of mistrust between our white staff and BIPOC customers which are escalating into very bad interactions and adding to the degradation of trust we desperately need to maintain. Diversity in libraries can help alleviate some of this mistrust but it can be challenging to find large pools of diverse candidates to hire in the library profession. These challenges need to be addressed before they become worse, and this is what we need to put our focus on in the profession.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

My background in libraries and my unique cultural upbringing can provide a new perspective that current members may have not previously considered. I can provide a thoughtful dialogue and knowledge, through personal experience, about differing perspectives. I can lead conversations to jointly resolve issues of systemic racism, bias, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Finally, I can listen to others and learn about issues brought forth and weigh the options suggested.


Natalie Starosta

North Riverside Public Library District, Library Director

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

As a previously active member of Michigan's library associations both local and state, I would like to begin participating in local library organizations here in Illinois. Not only will this give me the chance to learn more about the inner workings of RAILS but also allow me to share my experiences.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement; Marketing/Public Relations; Nonprofit Experience; Program Evaluation; Public Libraries; Special Events; Strategic Planning

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

With my previous experiences in the Allegan County Library Association, Lakeland Library Cooperative, various Michigan Library Association Committees as well as both ALA and PLA committees, I bring a variety of experiences and dedication to RAILS Board. I have served in both rural and suburban libraries for the past 10 years and bring the experience I have gained to my work and my service.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

I believe that promotion of ourselves, encouraging civic engagement and increased training expectations for all library staff to promote equity, diversity and inclusion are major challenges that we can focus on in the future.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

I've served on ALA's Learning Round Table as a board member for the past 4 years working to promote and support librarians across the nation to continue their education to become more knowledgeable and connected. Our past two groups of Emerging Leaders have had a specific focus on EDI initiatives with the LearnRT's Emerging Leaders Committee. I have worked hard to work with my staff to redesign our newsletters and communication to better convey our mission, value of what we do and what we can do for our community at each library where I have served and look forward to bringing that experience to the RAILS Board to share with others.


Linda Lopez

Chicago Heights Public Library, Tech Processing/Database Maintenance

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

To be honest I have never served on any type of board. It would be a new type of learning experience for me. Now that libraries(different types & sizes) have merged into one big conglomerate there would be a lot to learn. I'm hoping to gain knowledge of how the different libraries operate.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Community Engagement; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Facilities; Public Libraries; Technology

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I have almost forty years of library experience at the Chicago Heights Public Library. I was also employed at the Homewood Public Library for ten years. I have worked in and under several library administrators & in different departments of the library.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

Challenges in today's libraries are serving the homeless population which is growing constantly, combating racism and the world of technology. I feel racism will always be there, but trying to make a difference is not so easy. Technology is always changing and that's a problem for libraries due to budget cuts.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

Being a minority of Hispanic background. I have dealt with racism and with people being bias. People need to know that the library is for everyone, no matter what color, shape or size. Hopefully one day all the bad negativity will be eliminated from the world.


Carol Dolin

Algonquin Area Public Library District, Assistant Director

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I have reaped the benefits of the library systems for years and would welcome the opportunity to give back by serving on the RAILS Board.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Community Engagement; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Facilities; Financial/Budgeting, Accounting, etc.; Human Resources; Program Evaluation; Public Libraries; Strategic Planning; Technology

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I have 20+ years of experience in different positions in libraries of varying sizes, both well and poorly funded, in diverse and homogenous communities. I have served on boards of trustees for library consortia, insurance groups, and others and, I understand the responsibilities and commitment required. I feel able to speak from a unique perspective as we consider problems facing libraries across the system.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

I believe the greatest challenge facing everybody today is the deeply rooted inequities in our society. We need to find ways to create safe spaces to discuss and tackle the topics that divide us. The ways we work have also shifted during the pandemic. This is a bit more immediate and transient in my view, but it is a challenge we will all have to manage.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

Resource Sharing - My earlier committee work and service on the boards of MAGIC and CCS help me to understand some of the challenges that go into resource sharing. I also worked with the MyMediaMall and eRead Illinois projects for a time, so have some understanding of the possibilities and limitations of shared digital collections. EDI - I have served on diversity committees and worked with equity & inclusion projects for many years. I feel that my experience can add perspective as RAILS navigates its role in supporting and guiding libraries in this area. Telling the Stories - Every library has a story to tell, regardless of size, funding level, type, patron base, or constituency. I have enjoyed visiting, learning about, and photographing libraries across the state, country, and even the world. Those experiences enable me to understand and articulate their stories. Access for Unserved and Underserved - I have worked to address this issue in a number of different libraries with varying levels of success. I feel that it really is a state level problem but believe some progress has been made in recent years. I welcome the opportunity to try to tackle it from a system perspective.


Maggie Thomann

Northbrook Public Library, Fiction & Media Manager

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

Collaboration, connection, amplifying voices that aren't currently being heard -- these are the reasons that I want to serve on the RAILS board. The coming years are a critical juncture point, and we have the power to decide whether to return to the way things were before the pandemic and 2020's racial reckoning, or to learn and improve. What I hope to gain is the opportunity to be part of these discussions, to contribute my knowledge and expertise, and to work hard to move libraries across the system in a more inclusive, flexible, and impactful direction.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Program Evaluation; Public Libraries; Special Events; Strategic Planning

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I bring the perspective of an experienced leader who is not a library director but has worked in a number of Illinois libraries and served in professional leadership roles through ILA/iREAD, Adult Reading Round Table (ARRT), and the Electronic Content Consortium (ECC). I am deeply involved in the equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives in my library as EDI committee co-chair and would be excited to contribute to RAILS' EDI efforts. I have been a librarian for 15 years in adult, youth, YA services, and am passionate about the mission of RAILS and Illinois libraries to serve and enhance our local communities.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

The challenges that libraries face today mirror the challenges that our communities are facing. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our libraries and lives in numerous ways, and there are still many unknowns as libraries transition into a post-pandemic world. In addition, the nation's recent reckoning around racial injustice, police brutality, Anti-Asian incidents, and the disparities that have been revealed by the pandemic, directly affect libraries. Libraries play a vital role in working toward a more equitable and inclusive society.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

Two key pieces of experience are directly related to my ability to contribute to RAILS strategic priorities: 1) My current role as secretary of the inaugural Electronic Content Consortium executive board has provided invaluable experience and learning around promoting, supporting, and expanding resource sharing. The ECC was formed in 2018 to oversee the Digital Library of Illinois Overdrive consortium (formerly MyMediaMall), and is comprised of more than 80 multi-type libraries throughout the state. The board was tasked with implementing an intergovernmental agreement, developing bylaws, formulating collection procedures and a sustainable billing model. With the support of RAILS, the ECC is now a self-governing, well-run organization that provides transparency and has attracted new members and extended the consortium's reach to users across Illinois. 2) Serving as co-chair of the EDI Committee at the Northbrook Public Library has given me the opportunity to engage in learning and leading change in order to make our organization more equitable and inclusive. I still have much to learn but I am passionate about using my voice to keep these issues front and center, and would be eager to contribute to RAILS' efforts to address systemic racism and bias and to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in the library profession.

Public Library Trustee Seat Candidates

Michael Campbell

Fox River Grove Memorial Library District

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

As a current board member, I have seen the power of resource sharing that RAILS brings to our libraries. We can advocate for more funding for libraries for more resources such as databases, support for school librarians, and academic librarians. I would like to see our equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts continue.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Academic Libraries; Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement;, Education/Instruction; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Nonprofit Experience

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I have been the board president this past year and have learned a tremendous amount. The staff and board members, and members have been great during the pandemic, as well as a trustee from a small library, it has been an honor to represent this segment of libraries in our membership.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

As the pandemic wanes, libraries will open fully, so there will be a new set of challenges of managing programming, innovation, technology, and budgets. As well as making sure we have Teacher Librarians in as many schools as possible in our service areas.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

I have been on the RAILS board for the past three years and am currently serving as the board president. This experience has given me the ability to help the organization to better strategically offer our members better service for their patrons through resource sharing. I am committed to making libraries the center of our communities and working with RAILS and our local library board makes this a more attainable goal.


Thomas Stagg

Alpha Park Public Library

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

As a trustee at the local Library, I wanted to expand my knowledge of the workings of RAILS. With extensive background in Logistics and Management, it seemed to be a natural fit. Hoping to gain valuable knowledge of the interactions of all the different types of Libraries. Finding out those needs are extremely important. As we entered the Pandemic last year, we learned a lot. RAILS was at the forefront of assisting Libraries. I want to continue to learn from this knowledge base and use it to help my own Library and others.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement; Education/Instruction; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Facilities; Financial/Budgeting, Accounting, etc.; Nonprofit Experience; Special Events; Strategic Planning; Logistics; Inventory Management

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

In my first term I have been continually active in RAILS. Serving as Treasurer and now Vice President. Allowed me to see how the pieces fit together between my local Library and the LLSAP's and RAILS. Committee work in Advocacy has demonstrated the needs of Academic, School and Special Libraries. On Consortia Committee seeing how each operates, has allowed me to delve deeper into libraries and the LLSAP's. In addition to RAILS Board, I am active in the ILA Trustee Forum, and taking LTA classes at the Local Community College. The benefit to RAILS is my work ethic to benefit Libraries across the State.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

Major Challenges are State and Federal Funds for Libraries, we have a large State Debt and Federal Debt as we are struggling with Pandemic issues, we need to advocate for funding. Remote Learning and School in the Pandemic has been hard for students and family alike, Libraries have been working to help. Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion is a major issue facing Libraries. The Underserved and Broadband access in Illinois is a growing challenge. These are Challenges that need cooperation to overcome.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

As a current Board member, I endorse the RAILS Mission and Vision statements and Strategic plan. My logistics background understands the workings of Resource Sharing of both Physical and Digital content. The efforts RAILS has made in equity, diversity and inclusion are just beginning. With full support of the Board. The RAILS "My Library is ..." campaign is the talking points I use when engaging the community and other Libraries. My Local Library is adjacent to unserved areas and have a lot of underserved using our library. This is an area of great interest as a proponent of Libraries.


Karen Voitik

Shorewood-Troy Library

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I love the library and want to help it continue to be an important entity in the various communities. I would like to meet other like-minded individuals and bring ideas back to my own library.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Community Engagement; Education/Instruction; Financial/Budgeting, Accounting, etc.; Nonprofit Experience; Program Evaluation; Special Events

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I will take my involvement seriously. I presently serve as Secretary on the Shorewood-Troy library board and as Treasurer of the Friends Group at the Shorewood-Troy library. I was a teacher for 9 years and am used to meetings and working with groups. I am a creative, outgoing person who cares about the future of the library system.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

One of the main challenges for libraries I can see is pairing the increased use of technology (Zoom, online newsletters) with the elderly in the community who are afraid of technology.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

I am and have been an avid library user for my whole life. My children participated in story time, library programs and summer read. Pre-Covid, I volunteered to help out and promote the Shorewood-Troy library Friends group at most public events. I helped with various fundraising activities including an art fair, used book sale and mini golf. I am also an amateur writer and have participated in NaNoWriMo. As Secretary on the Shorewood-Troy library board, I am familiar with the paperwork, budgeting and meeting protocol that a library board needs to maintain. I have a BS in Accountancy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I think my greatest asset is that I actually use my library and want it to thrive. I participate in 90% of the adult offerings and go into the physical library building at least twice a week. I interact with the staff and really enjoy seeing them.


Alice Creason

Richton Park Public Library District

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I am interested in serving on the RAILS Board because I believe in the mission and purpose of RAILS as a service provider, a professional network, an advocate, and a vital resource for all of its member libraries. I want to support the work that RAILS is doing, and I would love to have the opportunity to help guide its future as it continues to support our libraries and our library users across Illinois.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Academic Libraries; Education/Instruction; Public Libraries; Strategic Planning; Technology

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

I have worked in Illinois libraries for 20 years in various roles, including special libraries and academic libraries, up to my current role as Head of Library Technology and Technical Services at Lewis University. Since 2017, I have also been honored to serve as a trustee of the Richton Park Public Library District in south suburban Cook county, serving a village of about 13,600 residents. I care passionately about our libraries and our library users, and I hope to share my depth and breadth of experience as a member of the RAILS Board.

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

One of the challenges libraries will face is how to incorporate the lessons we've learned over this past year as we return to in-person services and events. Libraries pivoted very quickly to offer curbside services, virtual programming, lending technology, and increasing digital collections during the pandemic. The challenge will be how to sustain these initiatives and balance them with our traditional services based on community demand.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

As a librarian, I have been active in library organizations in many capacities over 20 years, including most recently serving on CARLI consortium committees (2014-2020), acting as Communications Director for the LIBRAS consortium (2016-18), and participating in a panel at the 2017 ILA Conference. I would be honored to bring my varied experience as both a trustee and a librarian as a member of the RAILS Board.


Percy Harris

Homewood Public Library

Why are you interested in serving on the RAILS Board? What do you hope to gain from the experience?

To continue to network with many colleagues to maintain and strengthen these connections and to seek input on how to better identify & correct issue to our library stakeholders.

What skills and expertise can you bring to the RAILS Board?

Advocacy/Outreach; Community Engagement; Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Facilities; Public Libraries; Strategic Planning; Technology

How do you feel RAILS would benefit from your involvement on the Board?

RAILS Board of Directors for the last 1 1/2 years Homewood Public Library Board Member for the past 6years, Current Manager /President of Illinois Library Association, Library Trustee Forum

What do you see as the major challenges facing libraries today?

During the COVID -19 Pandemic libraries must work within the "new normal" protecting the health and safety of the community and still provide services.

How will your background and experience be of help to RAILS as we pursue our current strategic priorities?

Relevant experience in visionary leadership style and strategic planning acquired during my twenty-nine years in county government. I am confident that I can be an asset to will the board.