Laura DiBetta

Bethlehem resident: 8 years

Community Service/Volunteer Work
I served on the Town of Bethlehem Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee for six years and volunteered on the Elm Avenue Park Playground Committee. I am also involved with a couple of groups that work within the Bethlehem school district to promote equity and inclusion. Before moving to Delmar, I was on the board of Sustainable Saratoga and a volunteer with the Advocates for the Schuylerville Public Library.
Other pertinent details
Since September 2021, I’ve been the proud steward of the Little Free Diverse Library Delmar (Charter #132094). It is my hope that the LFDL Delmar is helping everyone in our community to feel welcome and seen, and that it complements the public library’s efforts to provide easy access to books that offer diverse perspectives.

Experience and goals

What do you consider your most meaningful career accomplishment?
What is most meaningful are the stories of how something I had a hand in creating made a difference in someone’s life. Hearing how a program or event inspired someone to try a new outdoor activity for the first time or brought them joy during COVID, for example, is incredibly rewarding.
What skills do you bring to your tenure on the board?
In my current role professionally, I lead efforts to enhance access to public lands with a focus on equity and inclusion. I would bring those skills here – viewing library efforts through a lens of equity and how we can remove barriers to accessing library resources. Much of my work over the years has also been in program development, communications, and project management—from large construction projects to public programs and events. These are especially important now as the library advances a major building renovation project.
What are your goals as a board member?
I hope to support the staff in their efforts to carry out the library’s mission and to continue to look for creative ways for the library to serve the community as it evolves.

Views about libraries

How does a library best serve its community?
Libraries are essential community infrastructure. At their core, libraries serve the community best by inspiring and fostering lifelong learning, and they can do that in a variety of ways. But they are also more and more looking at how they can meet community needs that are not being met in other places.
What are the most important issues facing public libraries today?
Libraries today are facing unprecedented challenges to books and other offerings and must remain unwavering in their commitment to uncensored access to books. Staffing shortages are also a major concern, especially as the demand for services is only increasing.
How are public libraries changing?
Libraries are expanding the traditional view of what they offer and serving as much more of a community resource center. The board can help by taking a holistic approach to advancing the mission of the library and supporting the staff in their efforts to be innovative and forward-thinking.
How have libraries influenced your life?
Growing up, the public library was right next to my elementary school. I remember it as a place of refuge, a quiet and safe space, but also a place for discovery. As an adult, it has been a place of community.
What do you like best about Bethlehem Public Library?
The adaptability of the library and staff, especially during COVID, has been outstanding. That kind of creativity and nimbleness, whether it be in services or programming, is one of the things that makes the Bethlehem Public Library stand out in the region.
What is your vision for the future of this library?
My vision for the library is that it is a welcoming and supportive place for all members of the community, and that it continues to grow and adapt to meet the changing needs of the community. Children now have much greater access to information digitally and at home, but I hope that the library can always be a place for discovery. I also hope that the building renovation project can incorporate sustainable design — inside and out — and serve as a teaching tool and model for the region.

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