Too Many Librarians? Concerns Raised over Number on New North Suburban Library System Board

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Peterson Daily Herald Staff Writer

Some former members of the North Suburban Library System's board of trustees are expressing concern about the unusually high number of professional librarians on the new board.

Of the seven members recently elected to the system board, there are five librarians and one in school to be one, according to Schaumburg Township District Library board member Robert Lyons.

They join a continuing member to bring to seven those connected to the library profession on the 15-member board.

The system, representing more than 600 public, academic and corporate libraries in north suburban Cook, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties, is dedicated to their improvement and the continuing education of their personnel.

Although there's expected to be some librarian representation on such a board, at least eight members by law must be public library trustees - often common residents.

The reason the number of librarians is unusually high this term is that three of the new trustees work as librarians away from the public library boards they're representing, while a fourth is studying to be a librarian at the college she serves.

Lyons, who's served several stints on the system's board over the past 37 years, said one of his chief concerns is in the way state officials and legislators might view a librarian-heavy board.

Because a main reason for the library system to exist is to represent the voice and needs of the citizenry, he's concerned about state officials adopting the view that the North Suburban Library System chiefly represents the views of professional librarians.

This could make it easier for them to justify to themselves a reduction in public funding when the system is already struggling to fulfill its mission, Lyons said.

"The system is starved for money, trying to do all the things it used to do," he said.

Lyons' colleague on the Schaumburg Township District Library board, Robert Frankel, is another veteran of the system board with a slightly different concern. …