Long Beach resident Sam Pinto recently announced his candidacy for Long Beach Library Board Trustee, a vote which takes place on May 16th. I recently spoke to Sam about his vision for one of the great assets of our community: The Long Beach Public Library. My family uses the library multiple times a week, so this vote is very important to me. I also know Sam [disclaimer!] and truly believe he would make a wonderful Trustee. Here is why:
1) Can you explain what the duties are as Long Beach Library Board Trustee?
While I haven’t been able to find formal duties of the board trustees, I do believe they are responsible for the fiduciary, operational and general direction of the Library. Some of the main tasks of the board are to: hire and work directly with the library director, approve the budget prepared by the Director, and maintain a general direction of the library services.
My vision as a Trustee is to advocate for the library in the community and advocate for the community needs. Making sure the residents have the most efficient and best possible library services, all while balancing affordability and taxpayer impact.
Planning and having a forward vision for the future of the library is extremely important. Planning is a collaborative and dynamic process, and it is the role of a trustee to be integrated in the community and to be responsive to its needs. From that planning the board adopts library policies. I expect a good amount of time will be focusing on policies involving library direction, financial efficiency and services being offered.
Similar to other boards (i.e. City Council, Board of Education), the Board ensures that there is a qualified director to manage the day-to-day operations of the library. The trustees should work closely with the Director and the staff developing policies and monitoring the effectiveness of those policies. Once adopted by the board, library staff carries out the policies on a day-to-day basis. Having a strong relationship with the Director helps make sure the library operates well and in the best interest of those the library serves.
2) Why are you running?
Why am I running? A lot of people have been asking that, some in a joking way. I’ve gotten a handful of positive comments. Many don’t realize the importance of a strong library in today’s society; some still think that is just a big building with books.
It is way more than that; a library should be the hub for arts, culture and supportive functions for its community. It is a tremendous resource that serves the residents and their needs.
I have taught classes and spoke at educational programs for seniors and other community groups. Practically every week I participate in children’s programs being offered to local parents. Plain and simple- the Library is our resource! Whether you are a senior looking for social support, or a place to cool of in the summer, you should think the LB Library.
When a new parent is looking for guidance or just to relate with other new moms and dads going through the same experiences, they should think the LB Library.
If a teen is looking for a fun and safe place to hang out, or get homework help, they should think the LB Library (especially the West End branch).
When looking for a fun toddler program or children’s educational class, the Long Beach Public Library will be there for you.
Self-help courses, programs on taxes or post Sandy transitions, etc, can all take place in the main library or the West end or Point Lookout branches. Those branches greatly serve the community and should be utilized as much as possible.
My vision includes reaffirming that our library is not only a tremendous resource but becomes a destination in the community. We have a beautiful boardwalk and beach, but where else can people congregate and enjoy music or culture in town.
3) What issues are most important to you?
Issues that are most important to me include maintaining and expanding programs and services, all while being financially savvy and limiting costs. It could be a tough balance, but it is extremely attainable, and I feel my experience and my skill sets will help in the process.
I understand resiliency, continuity and community needs. After Hurricane Sandy, I spent months coordinating the temporary Federal hospital located on the Rec ballfield. I also understand the importance of being the resident and taxpayer; alongside other neighbors, I helped lead the charge against both Istar tax break applications. I am a parent of 2 young children and want to make sure that they have the programs available to help in their development. As a first responder, I have helped many teens deal with stress and uncertainty often leading to drug or alcohol abuse, and want to make they know that the library will be a safe and supportive environment, free from any outside pressures, where they can meet with friends and enjoy music or other programs that promote positivity and support.
4) What changes, if any, would you bring?
One of innovative ideas includes converting our rooftop into useable space. A green rooftop with open space and community planters, a place you can enjoy some music and good weather away from the busy streets or beach. Rooftops in many places are being converted for similar uses. Imagine a Sunday afternoon in the summer enjoying a simple lunch with some acoustic guitar playing the background. During the week, a place to read a book, or harvesting some fresh herbs planted by the community. I see this as an attainable goal, especially since the roof is in need of repair and is being completely replaced. Why spend the money on simply replacing or repairing what exists when you have the opportunity to use that earmarked money to be innovative to serve the community and expand on it instead. At a minimum exploring this idea as a possibility.