Jane W. Altes
Albany, NY 12208
At a recent public meeting, candidates for the Albany Public Library board of directors were asked to address to three matters. My responses follow:
in the Board:
I retired in 2000, my increased time allowed me to expand my community
activities and I advised the mayor of my interest in making a civic
contribution. He appointed me to the
Library Board in 2001. I hoped it
was as good a match as I thought it could be -- and it has been.
The library is clearly at a crossroads, and I fully support its desire to
be more responsive to the needs of the citizens of this community.
I would like to help insure that responsiveness.
have been a library user my entire life. Indeed,
I lived directly across the street from the public library when I was a child in
Ohio and I served (untrained, but enthusiastic) as the liaison with high school
patrons one summer during my college years.
have spent my entire professional career in education. Education’s goal is to
encourage people to learn and to enjoy learning.
Those goals are library goals as well.
recently, I was the President of SUNY Empire State College -- the system’s
non-traditional institution. That
institution serves students (nearly all adults) in special ways -- working with
them individually, devising programs of study unique to each student, offering
credit for college level learning obtained outside the classroom.
That philosophy -- finding ways to meet the individual needs of patrons
-- is, and has been, the goal of libraries since their inception.
I fully understand that objective and I bring substantial experience in
finding innovative ways to serve many and to do so individually.
At Empire State College, I oversaw a budget in excess of $40 million, I was responsible for 700 faculty and staff members, I maintained good management relations with the unions representing them, I assisted the institution in improving and enhancing its services to approximately 10,000 students a year. The skills derived from these experiences are transferable, and I believe that my background enhances my understanding of the board’s role with library, its activities and its needs.
and Short Term Plans for the Library:
believe that boards should exercise policy and fiscal responsibilities, should
hire a good director and, with that director, should set expectations and
evaluate their attainment. It is the
library director’s job to establish and manage day to day activities
responding to both short and long term priorities.
That allocation of roles is recognized by the current board.
I would hope this approach will continue.
new library system is structured to be responsive to the community and to
exercise stewardship of the public’s money.
Strategic planning will begin shortly, and it will be a public process --
citizens will be invited to describe what services they seek, what materials
they need, what kinds of information access they wish..
Priorities will be established and activities will be developed around
more specifically, the loss of staff due to budget deficiencies has hurt the
ability of the library to serve. Early
plans include the replacement of children’s librarians at all of the branches
and an increase in library materials and learning tools.
More grant seeking will reduce the library’s reliance on public funds,
and having a development staff is critical to that approach.
plan already supported by the board is to purchase a “cybermobile” which
will bring on-line resources to area neighborhoods once a week..
Not only do these modern “bookmobiles” provide direct services, they
also test neighborhood needs.
particular and personal interest of my own is having branch library access on
Saturdays during the summer. I found
that when I worked in Saratoga I had to plan an “early day” or risk running
through my entire supply of mystery stories.
It is easier for me now, but Saturday still seems to right time to
explore the treasures of the library.
my husband, Wally, left the Chamber of Commerce this January we frequently were
asked if we planned to leave the area -- the answer was an emphatic “no”.
We have lived in New York since 1984 and in Albany since 1995.
This is home, and we definitely intend to keep it that way!
I would appreciate your support for my own candidacy, my greater interest is
that you support the formation of the new District Library System.
It will be good for the Library and good for Albany.