Full Name: Allison Lanthrum
What office are you seeking? St. Charles Public Library District Board Trustee
What is your political party: The Library Trustee position I am seeking is non-partisan.
What is your current age? 40
Occupation and Employer: As Events & Program Coordinator with the Aurora Public Library District, I develop and deliver creative and engaging events and programs for adults and families and coordinate library participation in community-wide events. I also coordinate exhibits and our teen, adult, and all-ages programming across three branches.
City: St. Charles
Campaign Website: alanthrum.wixsite.com/mysite
- Bachelor of the Arts (Beloit College, WI)
- Master of Library & Information Science (University of Illinois, IL)
Community involvement: My family and I are frequent and enthusiastic supporters of the St. Charles Park District, and in response to a request from our community for more inclusive and diverse events, I am a co-founder of Belong: Fox Valley.
Marital status/Immediate family: My immediate family consists of my husband, young son, and cat. Together, we enjoy gardening, music, crafts, and more.
Why are you running for office?
This is an exciting and important time for the St. Charles Public Library District and our community. The Library’s major renovation was completed in 2021, the same year that library employees unionized, and a new Director, Kate Buckson, joined the team in November of 2022. I am seeking a seat on the Library’s Board of Trustees in order to apply my skills, strengths, education, and experience to library policies that are fiscally responsible, environmentally sustainable, supportive of staff, and reflective of the needs, wants, and experiences of our community.
What makes you qualified for the office you’re seeking?
My qualifications for Trustee include experience working in public libraries, government, and non-profits, as well as being a frequent library user and enthusiastic advocate. I have also earned a Master’s degree in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois, and my personal strengths include strategic thinking and conflict resolution. All of these qualifications, combined with my dedication to community building, would be great assets to our library and community.
What is a library’s role in its community?
Modern libraries offer their communities books and so much more! A library connects people with ideas, resources, tools, services, and each other, and its role should be a reflection of its community’s unique needs and wants. To achieve this, a library should creatively engage its community, invite and be responsive to feedback, and evolve with agility. Within its community, a library may be many things at once, including children’s museum, art gallery, job training facility, entertainment venue, community center, historical society, workshop, computing center, and much more.
Do you support banning books from local libraries?
Thank you very much for asking this question. In September of 2022, the American Library Association’s President shared that, “The unprecedented number of challenges we’re seeing already this year reflects coordinated, national efforts to silence marginalized or historically underrepresented voices and deprive all of us – young people, in particular – of the chance to explore a world beyond the confines of personal experience” (ALA, 2022). When an individual attempts to impose their personal preferences or worldviews on others by restricting access to library books, I believe that the entire community loses. It is essential that library collections include a variety of viewpoints and reflect diverse experiences in service of its entire community. Books within a library have been intentionally selected by library staff based on collection development policies. “American Library Association Releases Preliminary Data on 2022 Book Bans”, American Library Association, September 16, 2022. http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2022/09/ala-releases-preliminary-data-2022-book-bans
Which books would you ban from your library and why?
Instead of investing time, energy, and resources into keeping some books out of my library, I would strategically invest in only adding books that meet specific selection criteria. Examples of selection criteria include how books relate to community needs, wants, and current events, attention from critics and reviewers, and how they may fit in the existing collection and/or complement other library materials.
Are voters that support your district taxed at an appropriate level?
Voters within our library district currently see less than $0.04 of every dollar collected in property taxes go to the Library. This rate was carefully determined to be what the Library needs in order to provide our community with high-quality resources, services, collections, skilled staff, and more. It’s impressive that the Library’s recent $18.6 million dollar renovation was completed without having to raise taxes! This shows that our tax revenues are well-managed and invested.
Would you support any plans to raise taxes in the district? If so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?
At this time, I would not support raising taxes in the district. That said, if/when a financial need is identified, I would explore and consider all available funding options and support that which best reflects the needs, wants, and interests of our community. If additional revenue is available, I would prioritize the Library’s investment in its staff.
Would you support lowering taxes in your library district? If so, what programs or services in the district would you cut?
At this time, I would not support lowering taxes in the district. If/when the reduction or elimination of programs or services in the district was needed, I would explore and consider all available funding options and usage data. Then, I would support changes in service that best reflect the needs, wants, and interests of our community.