Kip Kolkmeier: Advocate for Illinois Libraries

Those of us who attended the November CALL business meeting were given a treat when our featured speaker, Kip Kolkmeier, provided a rundown on the situation in Springfield. Kip summarized the many issues facing the legislature – not only the usual budget woes and redistricting fights, but the enormous unfunded pension obligation that looms over the state right now. Kip managed to tell us the sad tale while making it extremely interesting and entertaining.

Kip has been an adviser to the Illinois Library Association (ILA) for many years, and is well known in public policy circles. After the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) was approved by the Uniform Law Commission and began making its way through state legislatures, I contacted ILA because I hoped to get their endorsement for the legislation in Illinois.

Kip was very helpful in making sure that the ILA Policy Committee and Executive Board understood the legislation, and he continues to help us strategize as we try to get the law passed here. Kip knows everybody in Springfield, where he now lives, and he has been extremely generous with his time and his advice.

After the CALL meeting, I sat down with Kip to ask about his background. Kip is a graduate of Stanford with a BA in Political Science, and his law degree was earned at Loyola University Chicago. Kip’s legal career began in 1988 at Sidley & Austin, with a side trip to Speaker Madigan’s office in the Illinois House of Representatives, where Kip served as legislative counsel for a year.

Kip returned to Sidley, where he became a partner, then later moved to other Chicago firms – he was at Altheimer Gray for several years, then of counsel at Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon from 2003 to 2005. Kip now has his own consulting firm and also serves as senior counsel at Perkins Coie, advising the firm’s Political Law and Government Relations practices.

Kip credits his current position as adviser to ILA to Mary Dempsey, the former Chicago Public Library Commissioner, who was Kip’s friend and law partner when he was at Sidley & Austin. When the ILA needed help in the early 1990s, Ms. Dempsey introduced Kip to Bob Doyle, ILA’s Executive Director.

Kip thinks that CALL might collaborate with ILA on some information policy/library issues of interest to both associations, which I hope we can explore in the days ahead. Meanwhile, I am so grateful we have such a knowledgeable and generous friend willing to help with UELMA.

Kip enjoys collecting mid-century vintage furniture. How I wish I had asked him for pictures! Kip and his wife have two daughters. He and his wife might move back to Chicago as the girls finish school. Although it would be great to have Kip back in Chicago, I am awfully glad that he’s now in Springfield, keeping a close eye on what the legislature is doing about issues affecting our libraries.