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Answers to The Citizen’s questions of Library Trustee candidates
The Library is very busy, not just loaning materials, but also serving as a community center and a resource for specific groups in town. How would you prioritize these roles? As the world has evolved and technology has changed, there are more and more ways the library is called to serve the community and teasing apart those different roles is challenging.
The library’s most critical purpose is connecting people with the resources they need. Even in the early days of libraries, they offered more than simply books, they offered an escape from the every day, a launching pad for success, a path to discovery.
The role of community center is critical. If we have the most wonderful resources in the world but people do not come to the library to use them, we have not fulfilled our responsibilities to the community. The library has stepped forward during ice storms and other harsh weather as a place to warm up, charge phones, and find a bit of comfort. The library has to be our library. Bedford is not alone in this effort, libraries across the nation have stepped forward when their communities need a safe harbor.
If people come into the library for a meeting or a program they can learn about all the resources the library provides. If they come in to get a book or movie, they can discover a group they would like to be involved in. If they come in for a safe, warm space, they can discover a new interest or passion.
I am very proud of the work the library has done to meet the needs of groups in town, be it Chinese and Spanish story times or a meeting space for local clubs. Our ability to be a resource for groups in town is only as successful as our ability to create a warm, welcoming community that groups feel drawn to.
Do you have a dream for the library if you were unfettered by space and resources? If I could wave a magic wand, I would add three things to the library: 1) A small theater for performances and movies, 2) additional meeting and seating space, and 3) covered parking for at least some of our spaces.
The library routinely hosts talks and movie nights, both of which could benefit from a small theater with flexible seating. A space like that would better suit some programs already in the library, provide space for community theater groups, and free up the large meeting room for other gatherings.
One of the constant needs in town is for meeting space. We currently have a large meeting room on the main floor and a very small conference space on the third floor, but even with the addition of the reference room conversion to create an additional meeting space, we cannot meet the demand. When we do not have space, we recommend people explore the Town Center as an option, but even then, space is limited.
The Library shares the parking lot with the high school. Not only does that mean there is not always enough parking, the parking is exposed. If we could have a covered parking/entrance for a small number of spaces, it would be safer for those with mobility issues or carrying small children in bad weather. Especially for older residents in town who may feel housebound in the winter, a safe entrance into the library could be a lifeline to the broader community.
Final campaign statement: These past three years serving as both a Trustee and a member of the Library Corporation board have been a joy and a privilege. I hope to earn your vote for a second term as Trustee at the town election.
Over the past three years, we have completed a strategic plan for the library, added a lively hive of honey bees to the roof, created a meeting space in the reference room, and are well on our way to creating four additional study spaces at the Library. Our library constantly ranks in the top two for circulation in our region for a community of our size. The Bedford Free Public Library is strong and vibrant, and with your support, I hope to continue my part in its success.
I grew up in Bedford, and in many ways, grew up at the Bedford Free Public Library. It was a place to be greeted by a friendly face as well as find information. Even with all the changes over the years, at its core, it is the same place today. The library is bigger, the card catalogs were replaced by computer terminals, and there are now online databases and e-books, yet it is still a place to find both information and community.
Soon after returning to the east coast I shifted from a career in software, to work in non-profits. From 2003 – 2013 I worked with the Massachusetts Library Association. My time with MLA gave me an opportunity learn about the modern challenges of libraries at the state, local and federal level.
I have served in the town as a member of the Community Preservation Committee, president of the Bedford Center for the Arts, soccer coach, and Trustee. I have covered numerous boards in town as both a volunteer and professional reporter for The Bedford Citizen.
I feel my experience in town government, technical skills, and understanding of library issues uniquely qualify me to serve on the board. I hope to earn your support on March 9th to serve another term as one of your Library Trustees.
Letters to the Editor supporting Elizabeth Hacala
Elizabeth Hacala’s PSA on Bedford TV