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Aubrey Allie on the importance of supporting libraries

Lisa Von Drasek - Reading aloud to children
 Interview with Aubrey Allie, former library board president in Van Zandt County Texas, childrens writer, and host of the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers (WIFYR) Book Club. Find her at Aubreyallie.com/.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering for the library board?

My favorite part is advocating for the library and collaborating with the librarians, particularly the children's librarian. I'm a children's writer, after all, and it began with my love of reading and writing combined with my advocacy for children's education. Reading is important for kids as it enhances language and communication skills, stimulates cognitive development, and promotes emotional and social growth. It lays the foundation for lifelong learning, broadens their horizons, and equips them with essential skills for academic and personal success.

What do you wish people knew about libraries or librarians?

Libraries offer much more than just physical book lending. They function as community centers, providing a wide range of resources and opportunities for everyone. Libraries provide digital catalogs and resources for various needs, including job assistance, GED preparation, and activities for all age groups, including seniors. Our library works with Family Place Libraries, a trained network of nationwide librarians that encourages family engagement in children's learning through libraries. Their approach builds on the knowledge that good health, early learning, parental involvement, and supportive communities play a critical role in young children's growth and development, and they work with our library to help provide rich, engaging opportunities for very young children and their parents and caregivers. If a local library lacks certain resources, I urge people to get involved in its growth.

How can parents, teachers, children, and others take better advantage of libraries?

Explore and utilize all the resources they offer. Conduct research to understand your library's available services. Hosting activities and events for children, forming groups that meet at the library, and involving homeschoolers or students who can volunteer for community service hours are excellent ways to engage with the library.

How has being involved with the library influenced your writing journey?

Being involved with the library has helped me recognize the significance of community, and that leads into the writing community and the impact we can make by leaving reviews and requesting books for authors. I've also learned that we must continue to fight to have a voice.

What other ways can people support libraries?

Obtain a library card and actively borrow physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks. Place holds on books that are not yet available and request specific titles. These can all contribute to the growth and development of libraries. Furthermore, volunteering is crucial, as library workers heavily rely on dedicated individuals to assist them.

What are the responsibilities of a library board member?

A library board is a governing body responsible for overseeing the operations and development of a library. Library board member responsibilities involve managing policies and procedures, and board members must adhere to bylaws and work collaboratively to make decisions on behalf of the library and its patrons.

Unfortunately, our county has faced opposition from commissioners who believe libraries are obsolete. We are dedicated to preserving and expanding our library to meet the needs of our community. It is concerning when the commissioner overseeing the library holds such views, as it hinders our ability to grow and expand. Librarians work tirelessly, and it is crucial that we advocate for their importance. This is what being on the library board is all about for me.

What were your responsibilities as a library board president?

My role involved leading the board's activities, presiding over meetings, and ensuring effective governance, as well as presenting to commissioners court. Other officers on the board may include a vice president, secretary, and treasurer, depending on the specific structure and needs of the library.

Our library board works collaboratively with the Friends of the Library, a nonprofit group over all fundraising and donations for our library; and as president of the board, I worked closely with the president of the Friends.

What advice would you give other library boards?

Active involvement from library board members is crucial for the growth and success of the library. It is essential to actively participate and drive positive change. Every individual has the power to make a difference, so I encourage volunteering and engaging with the library. Offering librarian training can also attract more volunteers, as many people are interested in contributing their skills to support libraries.

As president, I implemented a committee system based on the needs of our library that has been successful.

What's the process for becoming a member of a library board?

The process may vary depending on the specific library and its governing structure. Typically, you can express your interest by following the designated application or nomination process. In our practice, voting occurs in the fall and as positions become available, is overseen by the president, and requires unanimous approval from all board members. Then, the president has to present the chosen candidates to the commissioners court for approval.

Any final words on supporting libraries?

I deeply value the role of libraries. Libraries are more vital than ever for our communities and must evolve alongside them. Numerous libraries are embracing technology and implementing innovative initiatives to expand their services. Although my tenure on the county library board has ended, I will continue to advocate for libraries and emphasize the message that "libraries are for everyone." Libraries deserve recognition for their invaluable contributions.

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