The Town of Wellesley depends on the active participation of its citizens in governance of the Town. Wellesley has 11 Boards and Committees on the ballot at the Annual Town election each year in March. The 2020 election will be held on March 17.
Ann Rappaport is one of two candidates running for two open positions on the Board of Library Trustees, a six-member board of local residents elected to three-year terms of office. Like other town board members, Trustees receive no payment for their volunteer services. Although the race is uncontested, we’re always interested in the priorities and goals of Wellesley’s elected officials.
We invited the candidates for the two open positions to answer a few questions about their qualifications and their priorities for the Town of Wellesley. Below are Ann Rappaport’s answers. A subsequent post will include a Q & A from Board of Library Trustees candidate Ann-Mara Lanza.
The Swellesley Report: What is your background and what qualifies you for the position?
Ann Rappaport: I am a 35-year resident of Wellesley and proud graduate of Wellesley High School (Class of 1980) and I spent a lot of time at the “old” library when I was a kid, taking out as many books as I could. When I returned to Wellesley when my kids were toddlers, we took full advantage of the story times and other kid-friendly activities. I’ve been a Town Meeting Member for 13 years and spent three years on Wellesley’s Advisory Committee, bringing my physics and electrical engineering background to the task of understanding municipal finance. Becoming a Library Trustee in 2017 was a natural “fit” for my interests and a chance to give back to the library.
SR: Why are you running for a position as Library Trustee?
Ann Rappaport: I’ve been a Trustee for one term (three years) and feel that I’ve gotten a handle on what the job entails and will be able to increase my effectiveness going forward.
SR: What if any changes would you like to see take place at the Wellesley Free Library?
Ann Rappaport: The Trustees are working hard with our Director, Jamie Jurgensen, to bring our renovation project forward. I am excited to see our vision of a library for the 2020s and beyond take shape, bringing patron needs like more meeting spaces, a better bookstore-like browsing area, an updated children’s room, and a place for eating and socializing to fruition.
SR: What are the most pressing needs in Wellesley as they relate to the library?
Ann Rappaport: Over the past decade, libraries have reinvented themselves as civic and cultural centers in their towns —places that residents can go to feel connected to their communities, grow as life-long learners, and access technology and costly materials for free. The divide between digitals haves and have nots is growing, and libraries help level the playing field. The WFL takes its mission very seriously and works to give patrons what they ask for, whether it is access to more databases, better wifi coverage, help with smartphone usage, or ESL classes. Maintaining and expanding services for our patrons is our most pressing need.
SR: When preparing the most recent budget in partnership with the Library Director, what were the biggest challenges?
Ann Rappaport: The library budget is a challenge because there are many fixed costs. More than three-quarters of our budget goes to pay our employees’ salaries as specified in the Library Staff Association contract. Of the remaining (expense) budget, about 80% is also non-discretionary. To maintain our accreditation and receive state aid, 13% of the tax-impact library budget must be spent on materials (print books, DVDs, databases, audio books, e-books, Library of Things, etc.) and we also pay a fee to belong to the Minuteman Library Network, which gives our patrons access to materials from approximately 40 other libraries. This year, the library received a 3.5% budget increase guideline from the Selectmen, which gave us a little breathing room and allowed us to add a part-time technology assistant to help keep up with the ever-increasing technology demands of the library. Like other town departments, our Staff Association contract is under negotiation this year, so our budget is not completely finalized at this point — always a challenge.
SR: What would you like to see achieved in the long-term at the library?
Ann Rappaport: I would love to see the library keep pace with technological innovations, probably moving in directions we can’t even anticipate. At the same time, the library’s mission of connecting and educating residents should remain a central focus.
SR: Is there anything else you’d like to say that I haven’t covered?
Ann Rappaport: I’d just like to put in a plug for our Library Foundation and Friends organizations, which raise money for the “extras” like museum passes, ESL classes, additional copies of popular books, “Jackie’s Room” technology classes, and the recently-renovated Fells branch (to name just a few things!) The Trustees try hard to make sure taxpayer funds are spent only on library essentials, and the library is clearly a more vibrant institution because of our supporting groups.
SR: How can voters get in touch with you?
Ann Rappaport: Easiest way is by email: firstname.lastname@example.org