Michelle Walsh

Bethlehem resident: 24 years

Community Service/Volunteer Work
For the past five years, I have served on the Bethlehem Library Board of Trustees, with four years in the position of Vice President. Prior to that, and throughout my children’s education in Bethlehem, I participated in the PTA as either Committee Chair or Committee Member as well as various other volunteer opportunities between the elementary, middle and high schools. I have also volunteered my time in many different capacities to my church over the last 24 years, including a mission trip to Nicaragua.

Experience and goals

What do you consider your most meaningful career accomplishment?
I once created and directed a coalition to lobby the issue of Medical Savings Accounts which were subsequently included in New York State law.
What skills do you bring to your tenure on the board?
As a lobbyist my skills include analyzing proposed legislation & regulations to determine their impact and acting as a liaison between community & government. As an incumbent Board member, I bring a willingness to work, insight, creativity and integrity. I am a good listener, a team player and a futuristic thinker.
What are your goals as a board member?
To help market library programs and services to the community; to act as liaison between the community and the library board; to monitor national library trends and our position relative to those trends; and to ensure that the taxpayer money the library receives is well spent.

Views about libraries

How does a library best serve its community?
By providing equal access to information; creating space for the community to come together; and enacting public programs that ensure equity and inclusion.
What are the most important issues facing libraries today?
Funding for capital improvements, public services and lending materials; maintaining community involvement; and keeping pace with expanding digital media.
How are public libraries changing?
Libraries today face a changing landscape of content. Digital media and ever-advancing technologies change the way people now learn and work. I am proud our library continues to evolve and expand in response to the changing needs of our community. It is my hope that our Board will always be open to innovation.
How have libraries influenced your life?
For my entire life I’ve lived close to a library. It used to be that—barring actual, personal experience–the library was the only place to acquire information. From a very young age, whenever I wanted to learn something new, the library was my first stop. Its influence is immeasurable.
What do you like best about Bethlehem Public Library?
The staff. They are committed to their work. Their good work impacts what the library can offer. They are the heart and soul of the best library (in my humble opinion) in our area. Taxpayers are often surprised to find that personnel represents nearly 78% of our operating budget. Our staff is worth every penny of it.
What is your vision for the future of this library?
I sincerely hope the building project comes to fruition. I have been on the building committee for 5 years now and we’ve worked so hard to create a space that honors both the library’s growing needs and the needs of our community as we’ve heard them. I believe our library has a very exciting future!

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