I had the privilege to respond to questions for the League of Women Voters Voter Guide that will be published in printed format in early October. Below, I have provided the questions and my responses.
LWV: What in your education and experience make you the best qualified candidate for this position?
I bring to this position a master’s degree in information from the University of Michigan School of Information and experience working in libraries and museums, including the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Currently, I work at Michigan Medicine conducting user experience work to create the best possible websites at the 5th highest-ranked hospital system in the nation. My partners in website development are world class leaders in their fields and we work together to make sure that those seeking healthcare, education or research opportunities can find answers to their questions on the web.
If elected, I will use the skills I’ve developed educationally and professionally to serve the library by carefully listening to constituents, studying the challenges the library faces and offering my assistance to a great local institution, the Ypsilanti District Library.
LWV: What are your goals should you be elected and how will you work to accomplish them with current resources?
Timothy Healy, former head of the New York Public Library, said, “The most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff.” I have had the good fortune to meet Ypsilanti Library Director Lisa Hoenig and many members of her team and know firsthand that we can count ourselves fortunate to live in a district with such dedicated and passionate individuals working for us every day.
If elected, I will work to support the ongoing work of the library as outlined in its 2017 strategic plan. A few specific areas of focus in the strategic plan include:
- Maximizing the effects of library programs;
- Improving the library’s fiscal health; and
- Marketing the library more effectively.
I also will schedule regular open meeting times to hear feedback and ideas from residents of the library service area that I can bring to the board and library employees.
LWV: What is the greatest challenge facing the library today?
TM: Our state is in the midst of a literacy crisis. Fewer than half of Michigan students in grades 3 to 8 demonstrate basic proficiency in reading (source: MI M-STEP data), and our 4th grade reading scores ranked poorly again this past year (35/50 states, source: NationsReportCard.gov).
With literacy challenges it is natural to turn to the library for programs, extra support and resources to create better readers. The Ypsilanti District Library has responded by acting as a vital supporter of reading and literacy, even despite 11 years of lower revenue for itself.
To continue to provide its vigorous support of developing reading skills, the millage proposal will need to pass. If not, our children’s literacy will suffer. The Superior Township library building schedule will be postponed; the popular Lunch and Listen program for youth will be cut; digital literacy resources and technology will become outdated and insufficient; and the library will be open for fewer hours each week.
LWV: In an age where more and more information is found online, how does a library stay relevant?
I think the brilliant author Neil Gaiman responded to this perfectly when he said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”
Two of Neil Gaiman’s books I particularly recommend are his more recent “American Gods” and the classic “The Graveyard Book.” These books along with so many treasures are available for free at the Ypsilanti District Library and not online. While there, I also recommend looking into books by some of my favorite mystery writers, the incomparable Louise Penny; the better than therapy Alexander McCall Smith and the best with multiple cups of tea, Elizabeth George.