A View from the Trustee Forum Workshop, Springfield
March 25, 2019
I spent an inspiring day on March 9, 2019 at the Illinois State Library in Springfield with a room full of library heroes at the Illinois Library Association Trustee Forum. The Trustee Forum typically holds a workshop every year in Oak Brook, but it has been five years since an additional event has been held in central Illinois. These dedicated library advocates gave up a Saturday to spend the day learning more about their roles and responsibilities as leaders of their libraries. There were trustees who joined their board just a few months ago, as well as trustees with more than ten years of dedicated service. Many traveled an hour (or more) to attend the program.
We were welcomed by Jay Kasten, president of the Trustee Forum Executive Board, and Greg McCormick, director of the Illinois State Library. Cyndi Robinson, deputy director of ILA, greeted each attendee as they arrived. Illinois Heartland Library System associate director Ellen Popit, board member Sandy West, and membership coordinator Anna Yackle also joined us for the day. We all came to listen to Amanda Standerfer from Fast Forward Libraries share information about the duties of trustees (care, loyalty and obedience), and outline ten specific trustee roles and responsibilities. Amanda also provided an excellent list of library and nonprofit resources. ILA’s legislative consultant, Derek Blaida, updated all of us on the activities taking place across the street at the State Capitol.
There were opportunities to network and share stories with other trustees before the program, at lunch, and during the afternoon Q-and-A session. I learned about a trustee serving on a library board without a physical library building that contracts with another library for services. I listened to the challenges faced by a trustee serving at a library that does not have a library director. I heard about a community where most people did not even know there was a library in their town, but whose patrons are now starting to attend (and love!) the programs being offered at the library. Another trustee asked me about executive session procedures, as their board never goes into a closed session. Many of the trustees I met serve communities of less than 10,000 people with few staff members and limited budgets.
I learned so much from these amazing men and women. These true library rock stars face many challenges, but believe strongly in the benefits a library can offer all of us. They find creative solutions that help their libraries provide needed services, and generously volunteer their time and talents to help make a positive impact on the library serving their community. I invite you to join me next year for the second annual Illinois Trustee Forum in Springfield!
Kathy Caudill is the president-elect of the Illinois Library Trustees Forum Executive Board. She has served for 16 years as a trustee at the Ela Area Public Library District in Lake Zurich, Illinois, a suburb northwest of Chicago.