Candidate Page ~ Library Trustee ~ Robin Grace Silbert

> Why are you interested in serving the Bedford community in this capacity and what do you consider your primary qualifications?

It’s been an honor to serve as a Bedford Free Public Library trustee. Before I was elected in 2017, I participated in formulating the library’s strategic planning survey alongside a diverse group of Bedford residents. Through that task, I came away with a deeper understanding of what goes into the making of a library that serves its community well. With that knowledge, I decided to run and was elected. The three years I’ve spent on the board have been an enriching learning experience. As a general library patron, I didn’t have to consider all the moving parts required to make the building and operation run. My sole concern was locating the materials I needed and finding a place to work when necessary.  With three years of experience behind me, I not only understand the workings of the library, I know what it takes to make the library work.

> What would your “dream” Library look like?

I don’t have a dream library in terms of architectural style, size or location. My dream library is always the feeling that any library, anywhere evokes in me. Do I feel welcome when I walk in the door?  Is there a comfortable place for me to sit or a table for me to work at? Does the staff seem happy to help? Is there a place for children, teens, and adults to congregate or is everyone in a jumble jockeying for the same space? Are people of all ages and ethnicities comfortable? Is it user-friendly? Is it keeping pace with the new technologies? And if I were new to a community, is the library a place where I could find interesting programs and perhaps make a new friend? My dream library, grand or small, is one that shows it cares about me.  And a coffee bar wouldn’t hurt.

> Bedford’s demographics are changing.  Our population is aging and we have an increasing number of residents whose primary language is not English.  How can the Library reach out to and better serve these populations?

One of our primary tasks as trustees has been to examine what we‘re doing to serve an ever-changing population. One place where we’ve excelled is in our children’s room where diversity is celebrated and embraced through materials and programming. We’ve expanded our World Language Collection to reflect the town’s growth and change. Eight different languages are spoken among staff. Overdrive and other online apps give all our patrons – including foreign-language speakers and the housebound – the ability to borrow materials without leaving home. We collaborate with COA on monthly book discussions and our Library of Things includes items helpful to an aging population. We are upgrading the reference room lighting to energy-saving LEDs. We also work closely with the Nashoba Learning Group and have hired one of their Autistic student volunteers as a page. Going forward, we will continue to address the changing needs of Bedford’s increasingly diverse population


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