While the recent publicity surrounding the Orland Park library's unfiltered Internet policy has disrupted operations, it hasn't scared off residents from applying for an open spot on the board of trustees.
Eight eligible residents had applied as of mid-December to the trustee position left open in October, when former board president Carole Hillman stepped down citing health reasons.
Many were reluctant to talk about the debate that has smoldered in town over the library's unfiltered Internet access, including pornography, and several made clear that issue is only one of many tasks they were ready to face if appointed to the seven-person volunteer board.
"I'm concerned about my taxes, so I would try to be a good steward of the township's funds," said Jim Bokota, a retired accountant. "I use the library all the time, I just think it's a good way to give back to the community if they consider me a trustee."
Mary Harrington, a 23-year veteran librarian at the Dolton-Riverside School District 148, was labor union officer with her school for about six years, she said. Harrington retires from the district in June and said she isn't ready to stop working in libraries.
"I firmly believe in the Constitution, and I would like to do what I can to prevent the library from losing the freedoms that they've held all these years," Harrington said, adding that while Orland Park is more affluent than other south Chicago suburbs, some people can't afford Internet in their homes and should be able to use library computers and access the Internet.
Linda Zec worked in the library's computer section during her employment with the Orland Park library. She ran for and lost in April's board election and was the first applicant for the open position.
"I'll be honest. Originally I wanted to get on the board...because of the porn issue," Zec said in an interview last month. "I cannot believe that came to light."
It was apparent that most candidates were in favor of compromising on the adult computer issue. They also want to hear more debate to find a solution.
"I'd be interested to hear some of the discussion and how people justify it," Bokota said. "Obviously you want to safeguard the children in the community."
"There are so many ways that you can compromise without taking away those basic rights," Harrington said. "I'm also not a fan of pornography, but there are ways to control that."
The library has held two full board meetings since patrons took issue with its unfiltered Internet access in October. Patrons and residents at both meetings spoke during public comment in favor or against unfiltered Internet access.
It's clear the job description drew out qualified residents to the applicant pool, which is handled much like a private-sector hire in a closed session. Board members have said they would wait until after the holidays to interview applicants.
Five other eligible residents put in resumes for potential appointment as of a week before Christmas, but were not immediately available for comment.
Newly appointed library board president Nancy Healy didn't immediately return requests for comment on the process of appointing a new applicant.
She said in an interview in November that the board has plenty of experience filling open spots. The board has appointed three of its current trustees mid-term. Whomever the board chooses would serve the remaining year from Hillman's term and would then face an election if they wanted to continue serving.
But as of late December, there was no indication the board had moved toward filling the role, and applicants said they hadn't heard anything from the library after applying.
There are relatively few guidelines governing the appointment of trustees to public posts. Ken Friker, who is an attorney for the Village of Orland Park and the library, said the Illinois Local Library Act says applicants must be an Orland Park resident, registered voter and not delinquent in library fees or taxes.
"When a board vacancy occurs between elections, the remaining board members by majority vote appoint a person to fill the vacancy," Friker wrote in an email.
Majority votes on the currently even-numbered board aren't givens if the vote for a new board member is anything like the board's vote on its 2014 levy, which took four attempts before the tie was split.