Two candidates one write-in for three library trustees seats

GUILDERLAND — Two candidates — Vishnu Chaturvedi and John Daly — will be on the ballot on May 20 for library trustee. Three seats are open on the 11-member board and a third candidate, Michael Fox, has launched a write-in campaign.

The unpaid post carries a five-year term. At the same time, voters will be deciding on the library’s $3 million budget proposal for next year.

Chataurvedi

Vishnu Chaturvedi reads a lot of books but Arrowsmith stands out in his memory.

“When I was transitioning from high school to college in India, I read this novel by Sinclair Lewis about a physician who becomes a scientist. He works with bugs that are causing havoc in the Caribbean ... It’s larger than life but the man is very human. He accomplishes his goal but the price is very high ... He makes a lot of sacrifices. ...

“I still remember it because, at that time, I was not reading that many books in English...It imprints on your brain.”

Chaturvedi is a scientist himself. He is a clinical microbiologist who does research for the state’s Department of Health.

He is making his first run for the board of the Guilderland Public Library, having been appointed to the post last September. “I’m still learning,” he said, but he believes he has much to contribute.

 “It’s a very good experience,” he said of serving on the board. “The group of people is dedicated and careful. They have reflective discussions and sincerely represent the community.” He went on, “Even though I was a rookie, I was never made to feel like that.” The board, he said, is “very inclusive.”

Chaturvedi has lived in Guilderland for 11 years, with his wife, Sudha, also a scientist, and their daughter, Aditi, a senior at Guilderland High School. He has enjoyed using the library during that time. “You get your books and get out,” he said. “You don’t realize there is so much behind the scenes.”

He has served on two library committees, for long-range planning and for grounds and maintenance.

Asked about his goals, Chaturvedi said he would like to see the library “try to expand as much as possible to high-speed computing, accessible to all demographic age groups.”

And, he said, while the library currently has a good public-speaking series, he’d like to see that extended “to invite local academicians, people who can relate science to the public.” Chaturvedi said, “A lot of scientists talk just to each other.”

Chaturvedi himself is on the faculty of the University at Albany’s School of Public Health and he is an adjunct at Albany Medical College. He is also editor-in-chief of Mycopathologia, an international scientific journal.

Talking of other goals for the library, he said, ”My target group would be teenagers, to make it more attractive, to continue to engage them...We may even have some students doing things not available at local institutions.”

Chaturvedi also said, “If I’m formally elected...I would like to influence people to contribute to the Friends and the Foundation...The money is very well spent.”

He concluded, “I’d rather not just fly my own flag, but be a team player.”

Daly

John Daly says he is passionate about involving the public in library matters.

 “I present a moderate middle-of-the-road view,” said Daly of his five years on the board. “I’ve fought successfully to control the size of the tax levy.“

He currently chairs the finance committee and formerly chaired the library’s long-range planning committee. He is also a member of the policy committee.

Now 70, Daly has retired from a 37-year career with New York State, where he worked as a budget examiner, management analyst, and planning coordinator.

Daly has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a master’s degree in health-care administration from George Washington University.

He and his wife, Lenore, a lawyer, have twins: Joshua, a 1997 graduate of Guilderland High who lives in New Jersey, and Sabrina, a 1997 graduate of Holy Names, who is about to graduate from law school in Maryland.

Daly is also a musician. He plays the string bass with the Delmar Community Orchestra and a local swing band.

“I believe that libraries are an important institution,” he said. “Guilderland’s library is a very good one...I want to continue to contribute.”

Daly is excited about the library’s expanding programs and proposal for a new addition. (See related story.)  “I want to participate in meetings we’re planning with the community,” he said, to “listen to ideas on how to develop the library.”

He went on, “I feel passionately about community involvement. I feel the trustees are too shielded from the community. I would like to see trustees’ e-mail addresses publicized.” Daly gave his own e-mail address to be published: [email protected].

“It takes time to read e-mails and respond to concerns, but that’s what we’re elected for,” he said.

Daly’s goals for his next term, besides working on the library expansion, include educating young people in science and technology. “We need to prepare our young people to participate in the emerging high-tech industry locally,” he said.  High-paid jobs will be available that will “keep our children at home,” said Daly.

He went on, “We are chartered as an educational institution by the state Board of Regents. We can present seminars and lectures on science and technology, coordinating with the schools.”

Adults should be learning, too, he said. Daly wants to “kindle the spark,” he said, and involve “all our citizens in seizing this opportunity.”

Finally, Daly said, he believes the library should limit access to R-rated movies, CDs, DVDs, and video games for children under the age of 17.

“We’ve recently issued a flyer to make it clear to parents that a library card grants access to all library materials...regardless of age...We can work out a reasonable policy which will limit access to adult-rated materials.“

The library’s director, Barbara Nichols Randall, said that, under the state’s confidentiality law, libraries cannot prevent anyone from taking any materials out. “It’s not the staff’s business what people check out,” she said. “When we first had videos, only people 18 and up could take them out. The community was not happy with that.”

She also said, “The videos, just like the book collection, are divided into different libraries — for children, teens, and adults.”

Earlier in his tenure, Daly had proposed that books for children aged 10 to 16 be labeled by librarians to make parents aware if they included “descriptions of sexually-explicit acts.”

The idea was strongly opposed by a crowd at a library meeting and did not gain support from a majority of board members.

“The idea I was proposing censorship is nonsense,” said Daly. “I was asking for a sticker on the spine of the book to say parent guidance recommended.”

He went on, “The library should put parents on notice so they can ideally hold discussions with their children.”

Daly concluded, “Each newly-elected board has an opportunity to set policy so the issue is always there.”

Asked if he has a favorite book, Daly said he is “an avid reader,” reading The New York Times and the Times Union daily as well as The  Altamont Enterprise weekly.

Right now, Daly is reading Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism by Arthur Brooks.

“It’s a very practical book,” he said “about the patterns of giving in the United States.“

While the Guilderland Public Library is supported by the taxpayers, he said, it is also interested in obtaining grants.

“All of us trustees need to know more about charitable contributions,” said Daly. “I’m hoping future programs in technology will be funded by farsighted members of the science and technology industry and academic institutions, promoting the idea of the new birth of the science industry in this area.”

Fox

Michael Fox is launching a write-in campaign because, he said, “I have the time and expertise to help out.”

Fox, 55, works for the New York State Senate as counsel in program. “I work for Joe Bruno in the policy area of education, libraries, and museums,” he said.

He has a bachelor’s degree in government from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in public administration from the University at Albany.

He and his wife, Debra Hutchins, moved to Heritage Village when they were first married.

“I’ve lived in Guilderland for the last 30 years as a homeowner and taxpayer. Both of my sons graduated from Guilderland High School. I have time now to give back,” Fox said.

Asked about his goals as a trustee, he said, “To insure access, making the library accessible to those with disabilities and the elderly.”

Asked about his favorite book, Fox said, “Number one is The Pillars of the Earth....It’s historical fiction about building a cathedral in the 1500s in England so you get to know the time and era and about the feudal system.”

More Guilderland News

  • The historic Dutch barn in what is now Guilderland was built before the American Revolution, Corey Nellis said, with hand-hewn chestnut beams. The American chestnut — once called the redwood of the East because of its huge size — was wiped out by blight more than a century ago.

  • The comments at Monday’s meeting were often supportive of library staff. Some expressed warm memories of the café and its owners while others questioned their allegations of racism. Several people of color spoke, saying they had not experienced racism at the library. The most common call was one for answers on whether racism and harassment had occurred — or not.

  • On Friday, the library issued a statement saying investigation has shown the problems were “not driven by discrimination based on any protected class” but rather from disagreement “about roles and responsibilities for library staff versus cafe staff,” and that internal procedures would be overhauled “to ensure that future vendor relationships are cordial and collaborative.”

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.