RAILS Board Election

Voting is open for the 2020 RAILS Board of Directors election from 8:00 a.m. on April 15 through 5:00 p.m. on May 8.

Each RAILS member library may cast only one ballot on behalf of the library agency. For school districts and other agencies with multiple library locations, the vote is cast on behalf of the agency as a whole, not a vote from each location.

Each library designates one person who will vote; generally, it will be either the library director or board president. Your library may vote on all seats, regardless of your library type.

Profiles of the 2020 candidates are available below.

Map of Current Board and 2020 Candidates

red pin 2020 Board Candidate

black star Current Board Member - Term expires/vacant in 2020

green star Current Board Member - Term not expiring this year

Academic Library Candidates

Gwen Gregory

University of Illinois at Chicago

As a current member of the RAILS Board, I am committed to connecting RAILS to the academic libraries of our region. I believe that multitype library cooperation is vital to our future. My library experience in 4 states has shown me many ways that libraries can and should work together effectively. I have founded and managed library interest groups and experimented with various ways for librarians to communicate and network. While some services for Illinois academic libraries are provided by CARLI, RAILS can link academic libraries in northern Illinois with all libraries as well as providing valuable resources and training.

I have served on the RAILS Board as the academic libraries representative since 2017 and am currently Board Vice-President. I have been a member of several RAILS Board committees, including the Consortia Committee. I was founding chair of the Board's Advocacy Committee and currently chair the Policy Committee, which recently completed a review of the revised RAILS employee handbook. I was previously part of the RAILS Member Advisory Group, and before RAILS existed I was a member of the Metropolitan Library System's Academic Advisory Committee. I have a long-standing interest in how regional systems can support academic libraries. During my time on the RAILS Board, I have advocated for academic libraries, sharing with other board members and the RAILS staff about the needs of academic libraries in our state. I am also active in the Illinois Association of College and Research Libraries (IACRL) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).


John J. Small

Oesterle Library, North Central College

I have been a Director in a RAILS library for more than a decade, and have made use of many of RAILS' services. I would like to be involved in refining services, and expanding upon them where possible, as well as representing Academic Libraries.

I have been President of LIBRAS (libras.org) and am currently about to finish my time on the CARLI Board. I have also spent time on advisory boards for public libraries. I have experience at the Board level, as well as in working to bring libraries and librarians together. I believe that working with RAILS would be an honor, but also that I could bring the perspective of an academic librarian working together with Public and other institutions.

At-Large Seat Candidates

Victoria Blackmer

Robert R. Jones Public Library District

I am an inventive library and information management professional driven to find new creative solutions through the development, implementation, and improvement of innovative programs, resources, technology, and services in order to enhance learning while ensuring access of information to all.

• American Library Association Emerging Leader Class for 2020

• Association of Illinois School Library Educators Bluestem Reading Committee member, 2017-2020

• PrairieCat User Group Day Planning Committee member, 2018-present

• ALA Association for Library Service to Children member

• ALA New Members Round Table member

• ALA Learning Round Table member

• Illinois Library Association member currently working on the formation of the Small and Rural Libraries forum


Kristine Kenney

Poplar Creek Public Library District

I see the value of RAILS first-hand with the Census 2020 grant and how libraries can contribute to such an important event. RAILS is making a tremendous effort to help libraries collaborate so we can all succeed. This experience has made a significant impact on me and my library. I would like to use the skills I have gained through my library experience to contribute to RAILS and serve the library community. I believe in advocating for all types of libraries and I'd like to be more active in these efforts as a library system board member.

I have been a Deputy Director since 2016 after being a manager in public libraries since 2011. I assist with budget preparation, monitoring expenditures and creating reports. I work with staff and our library board to establish and implement library policies. I participate in goal setting and strategic planning. I am an advocate for lifelong learning and developing services that provide a variety of opportunities to a diverse community. I am interested in advancing libraries through community engagement; and serve on a variety of local committees. I have expanded our partnerships and outreach to schools, businesses, and local organizations. I value collaboration between libraries to gain insight and share resources. With this background and knowledge I believe I would serve as an excellent adviser and board member to RAILS.


Hilaree Lombardo

Oregon Public Library District

I am interested in serving on the RAILS Board of Directors to increase my understanding of the regional library system and find ways to help make a difference for the libraries and patrons served. I am a director of a small rural library and feel that I can bring a unique perspective to the Board of Directors.

I am currently a library director at Oregon Public Library where I prepare for and conduct board meetings on a monthly basis. In my previous work in social services, I worked closely with the CEO and attended board meetings to better understand the administrative side of that organization. I have been in a leadership role for the last 5 years, involved with a variety of committees and assisted with a strategic planning process in my previous job.


Mary Kay Storm

Acorn Public Library District

I have been working in libraries my entire adult life and I recently earned my MLIS. I would love to serve on a library board or system board to broaden my understanding of libraries, to meet other librarians and library workers, and share my knowledge and experience. I would appreciate the opportunity to make changes or additions to policies and help advance library services across Illinois.

I have worked at 5 different public libraries across the southern suburbs and one elementary school library. I have worked in circulation, youth services, technical services and did my internship for my MLIS in young adult/adult services. I was on the Monarch committee for 3 years and am a member of ALA and ILA. I have attended workshops at the RAILS office in Burr Ridge and have also attended circulation management meetings and CLASS meetings.

Public Library Trustee Seat Candidates

Nadia Sheikh

Carol Stream Public Library

Library advocacy encompasses everything for which I have discovered an interest and affinity. I grew up with a passion for libraries and believe the main focus of a library board should be to promote and expand resources/services that are relevant to today's society and beneficial to our communities. My motivation for running for library trustee came from my belief that personal satisfaction comes from working for and with other people toward mutually established goals. Accountability and transparency are very important qualities to have in any board member and I promise to listen to the needs of our stakeholders and be an enthusiastic advocate for libraries within our region and at the state level.

The policies that impact our day-to-day lives are made at the local level and it is with that understanding that I decided to run for public office. On July 28, 2017, I was sworn in to fill a Public Library Trustee seat on the RAILS Board. I was nominated to serve as Treasurer from 7/1/18 until 6/30/19. I currently serve on the RAILS Policy Committee and am the designated FOIA Officer. I am constantly relaying information about the vast services offered by RAILS to my Library Board, staff, and patrons.

Currently, I am serving my second term on the Carol Stream Public Library and I serve as Board Vice President. I have been fortunate enough to see my library through completing its first major renovation and the pressure is on to demonstrate to a segment of non-library users about the value of our library. I have responded to unanticipated challenges with intelligence, strategy, and proficiency and addressed the complexity of interacting with stakeholders in my community. I attend monthly board meetings and serve on the following committees: human resources, bylaws, facilities, and finance.

I stay up-to-date on current local, state, and federal laws impacting libraries and am informed of budgetary goals. In addition, I support seeking funding to support library services and articulate our needs to local and state government officials by attending conferences such as the Illinois Library Association (ILA) Annual Conference and ILA Legislative Meetups. I also enjoy attending trustee trainings offered by RAILS.

I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to attend Elevate 2019 and was simply blown away by the experience! I took away so many useful strategies (professional and personal) and shared them with my colleagues upon my return.


Becky Spratford

La Grange Public Library

As both an elected library Trustee for 19 years and as an internationally recognized library educator and trainer, I feel I bring a breadth of experience to the RAILS Board, a breadth that it is currently missing. I not only have an intimate understanding of the issues facing RAILS member libraries, but I also bring the knowledge I have gathered working with library systems and consortia all over the country. Finally, I am uniquely positioned to see a fuller picture of the library landscape in relation to our specific situations than the average library trustee.

I have been a law librarian [3 years] and a RAILS member public librarian [15 years]. I received my MLIS in January 2001 from Domincan University. I have served as a Trustee for the La Grange Public library for 19 years, during that time I have been a part of multiple strategic plans, a bond initiative to build a $10 million building, completed 2 other construction projects, and hired 2 Executive Directors. I have worked with close to 100 libraries all over the world in helping them to train their library staff to help leisure readers in my current job as an independent library consultant. I served on the Adult Reading Round Table Steering Committee for 10 years [recently stepped down] and am currently serving as the Secretary for the Horror Writers Association [an elected position on an international board]. I am a recognized leader in the library community both here in IL [I am an Illinois Library Luminary] and across the globe. I am under contract to write content for EBSCO's NoveList database, reviews for Booklist, and a column 4x a year for Library Journal. See my website for more information and me: raforall.blogspot.com.


Elizabeth Tepen

Silvis Public Library

I would like to represent the interests of small libraries and learn more about RAILS services which are free or are applicable and supportive to school libraries and small public libraries.

I'm a librarian at United Township High School in East Moline and I serve as Vice-President of the Silvis Library board.


Alex Vancina

New Lenox Public Library District

I believe that libraries are an essential part of vibrant communities, enriching the lives of patrons of all ages through opportunities for lifelong learning, recreation, and self-improvement. As both a librarian and library trustee, I hope to share my years of experience and lifelong commitment to supporting libraries as a member of the RAILS Board.

I am a career librarian with over 17 years of experience in Illinois public libraries. I hold an MLIS degree from San Jose State University and a BS in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University. I am currently the IT & Technical Services Manager at the Helen Plum Library in Lombard. Prior to that, I was the IT Manager for the New Lenox Public Library, where I served on the PrairieCat Training Committee, helping to develop documentation and conducting Sierra ILS training for member libraries. My professional interests are library technology, collection metadata, and improving resource discovery.

In 2019, I was elected to the New Lenox Library Board. Recently, I co-chaired the citizens committee which helped to advocate for an overwhelmingly successful operating tax rate referendum for the New Lenox Library.

School Library Seat Candidates

Jenna Nemec-Loise

North Shore Country Day School

As an independent school librarian whose relationship-based service philosophy is grounded in human development, social justice, and global citizenship, I've been honored to serve the RAILS Board and community via the School Library Seat since August 2019. During my brief time on the Board, my enthusiasm has only grown for the important work we do as a leadership team. I look forward to amplifying the voices of Illinois school librarians through my continued work with RAILS and our partnerships with the Association of Illinois School Library Educators (AISLE) and the Illinois Library Association (ILA). We are better—and stronger—together!

***Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS)***

Board Member, School Library Seat (August 2019-June 2020)

***American Library Association***

Member, ALA Policy Corps (2018-2023)

Member, Committee on Legislation (2014-2015)

***Association for Library Service to Children***

Division Councilor, American Library Association Council (2015-2018)

Chairperson, AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation (2014-2015)

Member Content Editor, Everyday Advocacy Website and Electronic Newsletter (2013-2018)

Member, Advocacy & Legislation Committee (2013-2014)

Advocacy Columnist, Children and Libraries Magazine (2013-2018)

***Young Adult Library Association***

Chairperson, AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation (2014-2016)

***Other Accomplishments***

Pioneered 2-4-6-8 model of library advocacy

Developed nationally recognized advocacy training workshops for staff serving children and teens in both school and public libraries

Currently researching and writing 2021 dissertation, "Delving Differently: A Human Development Approach to School Library Impact"