An IT worker, a former Chamber of Commerce president, an NAACP activist, an advocate for the disabled, a former librarian and a former city councilmember are among the candidates vying for the Board of Library Trustees.
Four hopefuls came before the board last week. Three others will appear Aug. 1, the date the trustees say they will make their selection.
In an unusual move, the board voted Wednesday to interview two candidates whose applications were turned in after the July 1 deadline. Former City Councilmember Ann Chandler’s application is stamped July 3; Abigail Franklin’s application was also late. (The Daily Planet was unable to locate Franklin’s application, which could be found neither in the city clerk’s office nor at the library.)
Jane Welford, a member of Berkeleyans Organizing for Library Defense (SuperBOLD), criticized the interview process. “They shouldn’t have accepted applications from people who didn’t get their applications in on time; it’s pretty outrageous,” she told the Daily Planet on Monday.
Mary Lukanuski, a former Berkeley Public Library employee who works in software design, will also be interviewed Aug. 1. Her application was received June 29.
The composition of the Library Board of Trustees, which oversees an approximate $14.5 million mostly taxpayer-funded budget, is spelled out in the City Charter: “Five Library Trustees shall be appointed and may be removed by a vote of five members of the council…” One member must be a councilmember appointed by the council.
The charter gives the trustees broad powers “to manage the library and to appoint, discipline and dismiss all officers and employees of the library.”
City law restricts trustees to two four-year terms. Trustee Laura Anderson’s second term ends in October.
The board has typically chosen its members with rubber-stamp approval by City Council.
However, after the forced resignation of former Library Director Jackie Griffin, the community asked for greater library board transparency and more community input into trustee and director selection. Griffin had been at loggerheads with the library union over her treatment of employees and in conflict with the community over a decision made with limited citizen input to purchase a check-out system that uses radio frequency identification chips.
A City Council-library committee was to write new, more open, trustee selection guidelines, but the process stalled when one of its members, Trustee Chair Susan Kupfer, was unable to meet during any of the 15 dates proposed, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who chairs the committee.
At its meeting last week, outgoing trustee Laura Anderson was chosen to take Kupfer’s place on the committee.
Welford criticized the trustee interviews, saying the questions asked the candidates did not reflect community concerns. The community, including library personnel, was invited to pose questions during last year’s selection process for a new library director, but no community process has occurred with the trustee selection.
Not asking questions on personnel issues “shows they haven’t been taking the union seriously,” Welford said, adding that omitting questions about RFID shows “they don’t want to deal with it.”
The Daily Planet reviewed the taped July 18 candidate interviews.
Carolyn Henry Golphin
A 12-year Berkeley resident, Golphin has extensive experience serving on boards, and is currently active with 10, including her role as a first vice-president (and past president) of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, and a board member of the St. Paul AME Church, the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, the [UC Berkeley] Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund and six other groups.
She is marketing director of Skates on the Bay.
In response to a question about whether she would have time for the job, Golphin said, “I won’t accept [the job] if I feel I can’t do it.”
Asked how she would approach budget constraints, Golphin responded: “I wonder if we’ve talked enough to corporations for support.” She also suggested reaching out to foundations.
Golphin said she had honed her public speaking skills as a “public spokesperson for the Chamber.”
The library should serve people in need, Golphin said, noting that it is a place where jobseekers go for a variety of resources. “Some people cannot afford to have the Internet at home,” she said.
While the Berkeley library has no filters on Internet access, including computers for children, Golphin said, “It is important that our children be protected … I’m concerned that we can’t protect what our children have an opportunity to read.”
A 59-year Berkeley resident, Elaine Green is CEO of the Lorin District Development Association. Among references for the position, she names outgoing trustee Laura Anderson.
In her interview with the board, Green stressed the role of trustee as a “liaison with the community.”
Green pointed to existing library strengths, including a sense of safety at all the branches and each branch’s reflection of the community it is in.
“Libraries are vital to our democracy,” she said. “Berkeley has a long tradition of social justice—it’s part of the fiber of our being.”
She said she has, in part, honed her leadership skills serving as legal redress chair of the Berkeley NAACP. She has also spoken out in public against a proposed condominium development at the Ashby BART station.
Green, who has expressed reservations at public meetings about the South Berkeley Library moving to the Ed Roberts Campus at the Ashby BART station, said that the library should conduct needs assessments every five years. “We need to keep up with the needs of the community,” she said.
Like Golphin, Green said she sees the need for some library control over what children access on the Internet. “At present, in my mind, is the need to understand and monitor the availability of the MySpace website,” Green wrote in her application.
A former library volunteer, Kevin Haney, a Berkeley resident since 2004, is an information technology manager at UC Berkeley and adjunct professor at San Francisco State University.
His resume indicates that he helped found a startup pharmaceutical company in Tucson in 1992 that was sold to Aventis Pharmaceuticals in 1995.
Haney said his work experience would help him serve on the library board. He manages a group of eight people and is “used to dealing with a great deal of diversity and differing of opinions on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Asked about the role of libraries, Hanley said: “Libraries serve a catalytic role in the community; they transform people.”
To play a role in running the library, “You have to understand the aspirations of the community,” Haney said, including the need for literacy, citizenry and economic self-sufficiency.
Haney acknowledged that there is “never enough money” for organizations such as libraries. Facing budget constraints, “The best thing you can do is be sure you have a clear set of priorities” and see how other entities facing similar constraints have overcome them.
On renovations, he said: “It is important to renovate, but important to preserve.”
Haney said parents should make the decision for their children concerning Internet filters.
Frances “Dede” Dewey
An 11-year Berkeley resident, Frances “Dede” Dewey, who uses an electric wheelchair, is an activist with a history of asserting the rights of disabled people.
Among the reasons for applying for the post, Dewey says in her written statement: “I feel the disabled community needs to be better represented with regard to the decision-making process of where and when the new South Branch Berkeley Public Library will be relocated.”
“My concern is that disabled issues may not get fully addressed with the rebuilding of the South Branch when it happens,” she said during the interview, adding that a new library should strive to go beyond legal requirements.
“I’m concerned that disability issues may get put by the wayside,” she said, noting that, while the small South Berkeley branch library is not wheelchair friendly, the library board should be looking at a variety of options, not just the Ed Roberts campus.
“You have to have more than one choice,” she said.
Dewey served with AmeriCorps for two years and has served on Berkeley’s Labor Commission. One skill she learned on the commission was to ask questions that serve to clarify, rather than to argue.
The library should write more grants, she said, noting that she helped write a grant for disabled access when the main library was renovated.
A Berkeley resident since 2001, Mary Lukanuski designs web-based applications for a software company in Palo Alto and has worked as a librarian in academic research. At one point in her career, she worked part time as a “web librarian” at the Berkeley Public Library.
In her written application for the position, Lukanuski said she is “impressed how the Berkeley Public Library believes in its mission of public service and strives to actively engage its community.”
Ann Chandler and Abigail Franklin
A city councilmember from 1984 to 2002, Ann Chandler served as council liaison to the library board. “Making decisions about using resources to best serve the community is critical to the library’s success,” she said in her written application.
Abigail Franklin’s application was not available.
The Library Board of Trustees will continue interviewing trustee candidates and make its selection in a meeting that begins at 7 p.m. Aug. 1 at the central library downtown, in the third floor community room.
A community meeting on library needs will be held today, July 24, 7 p.m., at LifeLong Medical Care, 3260 Sacramento St., second-floor conference room.