What difference does a library make?
Through its library, a community speaks volumes about its values and priorities. I have been extremely impressed with the modernization and the broad outreach that the Oak Park Public Library has demonstrated over the years. (For a glimpse at some of its numerous services, click here.)
As a frequent user of the library, both professionally and personally, I have witnessed and benefited from the library’s openness and professionalism in serving an array of individuals and organizations.
That commitment to being a valuable resource for Oak Park residents and guests appears to be as vibrant as ever. If elected, I would diligently look for ways in which that dedication to serve individual, families and groups can continue and expand.
Who is Matt Baron?
A native of the Boston area, I moved to Oak Park with my wife, Bridgett, in 1994. We met as undergraduate students at Northwestern University. We have two children (9-year-old boy/girl twins). I was a longtime newspaper reporter, covering a wide range of beats as a staff writer for The Courier News in Elgin and as a freelance reporter for the Chicago Tribune. (Here’s one of my final stories for the Tribune—a feature on Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life.)
Since 2005, I have operated my own public relations and communications firm, Inside Edge: Public Relations & Media Services. My office is in Downtown Oak Park.
Among other activities, I am a member of the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce; have served with the Celebrating Seniors Coalition; serve as the president of my 20-unit condominium association; have served as an assistant soccer coach and am currently in my second year as basketball coach for both my son and daughter on their teams in the Park District of Oak Park.
Other activities have included past service as a volunteer with the Hephzibah Children’s Association, developing the marketing-and-communications programs for the “Shop the Village” campaigns during the 2008 and 2009 holiday seasons throughout Oak Park; and serving as the host of Oak Park’s Own, which profiles residents of note on VOP Channel 6 (below is one segment, filmed at the Main Library).
Why is Matt running for the library board?
My overriding motive is to contribute to an organization that has done so much for me and my family.
Two main, and interwoven, considerations come into play. Serving the library would be part of my quest to be in a continual mode of learning, and I enjoy pursuing challenges in which I believe I have something of value to contribute.
For years, frankly, I have taken for granted the benefits that have come with holding an Oak Park Public Library card. Yes, as a taxpaying citizen, I realize that I am “entitled” to these benefits. But I want to take the next step and learn more about the nuts and bolts of what makes this organization function.
At the same time, applying the skills I have honed as a journalist, publicist and business owner, I am confident that I would lend a perspective that would help the Board identify ways to improve an already-stellar operation and provide leadership in the future.
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