Member Spotlight - Susan Palmer

November 8, 2021

Another ILA Member Spotlight has arrived! Susan Palmer, Operations Director at the Illinois Heartland Library System (Edwardsville office), is featured in this member spotlight.

We asked Susan to tell us a little bit about herself and to answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Susan. 

A little bit about Susan

I was adopted into a wonderful family. I so loved going to the library and picking out 12 new adventures to explore. I was a ravenous reader and would lose myself in books. I truly believed I would have daily mysteries happening. Reading for me, from an early age, was a way to escape the mundane beige world. I longed for adventures and always wanted to be a gypsy in a caravan filled with books.



How did you get into libraries?

1997 was the year I met my calling. I was living in Chicago and wanted to move back to my hometown of Galesburg, IL. Signed up with placement at an agency, and they contacted me with a possible match at the Alliance Library System (ALS) in delivery. I was working at the time for the Werner Ladder Company and my wonderful boss allowed me to hang out in the shipping department to gain delivery insight. Not much from that semi driver shipping department translated to delivery at ALS, however after that interview, I have never felt such a tug at my soul. Still love delivery and libraries!

Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?

From Valerie J. Wilford, former executive director of ALS, “The devil dances in your eyes. Don’t stop letting him dance.” I will say I took it as a compliment for my unorthodox solutions. Libraries truly encourage and welcome all. Even those with dancing devils in their eyes.

Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?

Welcome to the best place ever. Be a warrior defending the last bastion of free information. Provide what the community needs to be the best it can be. Find a library that is doing things that speak to your soul. Share in grocery lines, share at Big Lots, share wherever there are mandatory pauses – lines of waiting. Look at situations with an eye to how the library could be part of the solution or even as an answer to an overwhelming world.

When and why did you become a member of ILA?

I started at the Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) as the Operations Director in 2014 and that is when I joined ILA. I wanted to be able to know and share the benefits of ILA with not just other staff but with libraries in IHLS. One of the first forays was having ILA meetings south. They held town hall meetings all over the state and listened and took notes. They began adjusting where they could represent libraries. Ultimately, we are all just libraries trying to be the best that we can with what funding we have for our communities.

What is the one accomplishment you are most proud of as a member of the ILA Awards Committee?

I so enjoyed being part of this committee. What’s not to love about celebrating libraries? One of the projects that we worked on focused a light on what the actual award was – sometimes the names of the awards did not identify what the award was. We took each award name and created names that are descriptive of what the award represents.

Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, or all three?

All three plus I would add the Playaway’s. Those were so easy to use! Could wear it around my neck with earbuds and even the most mundane tasks such as pulling weeds was lifted to new a new adventure level.

Favorite author?

I have recently discovered the author, Ted Morrissey. Love how he writes. Takes you on a journey. I also like Patricia Cornwell.  Seems like I am drawn to mystery/thriller/crime writers. 

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?

Anything by Clint Smith, Ted Morrissey and one has to be blank so I could fill it with ideas on how to use the deserted island.

Cat or dog?

Both! Dogs, well because they are happy always and they listen. Cats because I seem to have a couple that my older children entrusted to me. Miss Kitty and Stella Artois. And I do adore them now!

Favorite film, podcast, or television show?

I began watching foreign films to get my ear acclimated to the language as I was using Duolingo to learn Swedish so when I visit the bookmobiles over there, I would have a few things to say in their language. Arsenic & Old Lace, Hero, Amelie, and any other foreign crime show.

One person you would like to meet, dead or alive, and why?

Governor J.B. Pritzker. I would love to meet him and have a conversation at one of the greatest things that Illinois does – partners “free” delivery with resource sharing to give access to Illinois library card holders. I would share there is an opportunity to address the age-old problem of access to library for all residents. Equal access for all Illinois residents. Mobile vans filled with materials for check out for those residents that are in the unserved, untaxed areas.  It is just a different form of a library. Have a fleet that moves around regions in the state – each with a different focus of collections…from STEAM kits to Illinois Services to Senior specific programs to even musical instruments…the vans are open for the communities with whatever libraries can provide.

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