On Board with...Jan Simon

Jan Simon joined the Champaign Public Library Board of Trustees in 2010.

Describe the importance of public libraries.

The Freedom to Read Foundation, which is affiliated with the American Library Association, has this tagline: “Free people read freely.” That’s exactly what I believe. Libraries and librarians protect this basic and all-important right. I can’t imagine anything more important than having free and open access to information, uncensored!

Describe your background and what you bring to the board.

I credit my parents with instilling a love for reading in me at a very young age (before I started school). My mom and dad would take me to our public library in Kansas City once or twice a week. I’d come home with 10 or so books, usually those biographies for young readers, and fiction, too. I’ll always be grateful to our neighborhood librarians in Kansas City for being so kind and friendly to my dad as he grew older and more frail. They would deliver books to him when he could no longer drive himself to the library. It made a real difference to his quality of life.

I’ve had the pleasure of working at Parkland College since 1994. After I became director of community education, I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Library & Information Science at the nation’s number one library program, right here at the University of Illinois. My lifelong love for libraries is stronger than ever. Libraries, especially ours in Champaign, enrich our daily lives.

Tell us a little bit about your family, pets, etc.

I’m born and raised in the Midwest (Missouri). I’ve also lived in Victoria, Australia (where I taught school), and Boulder, Colorado (where I was a marketing copywriter). I enjoy travel (although my favorite part is coming home), I love to go out for good food and wine with friends, and I have a smart and funny Jack Russell Terrier, whom I named Emmylou Harris Simon.

What have you read, watched, or listened to lately?

Currently I’m in the middle of the second “Girl with the …” series by Stieg Larson. Love that Lisbeth Salander character! I’m also enjoying reading Bill Bryson (his book on his travels to Australia was one of the funniest and truest accounts I’ve ever seen). Watching True Blood. Listening to Emmylou Harris (of course).

Jan Simon

Jan Simon