Ellen Fultz-Schmid: Candidate profile
Name: Ellen Fultz-Schmid
Office sought: Geneva Public Library District Trustee
Family: Erich husband; children Emily and Elliot
Occupation: Law Librarian at the Kane County Law Library and Self Help Legal Center
Education: BA English; MLIS Master of Library and Information Science
Civic involvement: Geneva Public Library District Board; Geneva Public Library District Policy Committee Chair, Kane County Bar Association Editorial Board; Kane County Juvenile Justice Center Library Committee Chair
Previous elected offices held: Geneva Public Library District Board (2015-current)
Incumbent? If yes, when were you first elected? Yes, 2015
What are the most important issues facing your library district and how do you intend to address them?
I feel the most important and pressing issue facing the Geneva Public Library District in 2019 is keeping the public informed about, and engaged with, all things pertaining to the new library opening in Fall 2019. After voters passed the building referendum in 2017, the new 57,000 sq. ft. library at 227 S. Seventh Street is on track for completion by the end of this year. I intend to keep people educated and involved in this process by doing all that I can to invite and welcome conversations about the new building along with raising awareness about all of the features a 21st century library will offer to the Geneva community. As a Geneva Public Library trustee incumbent, a past, thirteen year Geneva Library employee, a current Law Librarian for Kane County Law Library and acting chairperson of the Geneva Public Library District Policy Committee, I intend to continue working diligently to help develop the policies that will govern the new building, encompassing all of the new library's expanded features. I will also work with taxpayers to make sure they are aware of, take full advantage of, and weigh in on how their tax dollars are being utilized.
Why are you running for office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what is it?
I'm running for this office because I believe in and support libraries. My greatest passion is what libraries stand for and what they can provide for a community. I have spent all of my life visiting, working, advocating and volunteering for libraries. Libraries are the one place where everyone has a seat at the table. It is the great equalizer of communities. The stigma about libraries being a warehouse for books has persisted for far too long. A library is the heart of a community, a place where everyone can have a voice, learn something new, fact check, discover a passion for something, feel safe and become life-long learners. It is my mission to continue advocating for libraries and to make sure our Geneva Public Library District continues to positively impact and empower our community for many years to come.
If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of important initiatives you've led. If you are a non-incumbent, tell us what contributions you would make.
As an incumbent, I am honored and humbled that I am helping build our future together. I was able to develop plans for our new library along with the Geneva community during library focus groups and forums. I witnessed firsthand our community's support for the successful library referendum, and then worked with community members, fellow board members, Geneva Public Library director, Christine Lazarus, dedicated library staff, our architects, all in an effort to bring the community a 21st century library I feel will be worthy of our taxpayers trust and that will play a crucial role in Geneva community members' lives for years to come. Another important contribution I have made over the last four years is serving as chairperson of the Policy committee. This is an important role, especially in developing policies for the new building which will include many new services including a makerspace, a technology commons, lab spaces, a community art gallery, enhanced children's area, outdoor reading spaces and many other expanded features to engage the community as a whole.
Do you have a library card? How long have you had it? How often do you use it?
I have always had a library card. It is the most important card I carry as it can open any door for me and has opened many throughout my life. When our family moved to Geneva in 2001, our very first stop (after a VERY long road trip from Arizona) was at the Geneva Public Library to inquire how to get our library cards. I use my card frequently, sometimes more often than once a week.
What impact have economic and technological changes had on libraries? How does a library remain relevant? How should its role in the community change?
When I first started my library career, a computerized library catalog had just replaced the card catalog which was difficult for many but now has become the norm. On the flip side, people have said eBooks will replace print, but so far studies have shown this isn't true. According to a 2018 Pew Research study, 67% of Americans still prefer print over digital. My point is a library remains relevant by listening and acting on the wants and needs of its community and remaining true its mission--Geneva Library's is to "connect our community to discover, inspire and grow." A board cannot predict the future of technology, but it should be fiscally responsible by planning a flexible library where re-purposing space and assets can meet future innovations as economically as possible which is what the current board has done. The Geneva Library has always excelled in providing computer classes, books and online learning tools for our patrons to keep up with current technological trends. I have been particularly passionate about educating the public in technological advances. Eight years ago, I donated the monies received from winning the American Library Association's Innovator of Technology award to the Library to establish a technology petting zoo. Now, in its eighth year, the Geneva Library continues to loan electronics (tablets, eBook readers, digital photo equipment, etc.) so patrons may test drive products, or get up to speed on technology they don't own. With over 272,634 library visitors in 2018 alone and with 29,763 library program attendees and 646,624 items loaned, I am excited to see the important role Geneva Public Library plays in our community and I am excited to see how its relevancy will continue to grow once the new library opens in Fall 2019.