Carolyn Williams, Guilderland library candidate

Carolyn Williams

GUILDERLAND — “Libraries have always been very, very important to me,” said Carolyn Williams, who is making her first run for the board.

Once a week, in her youth, she would walk to the library near the dairy farm in Newport where she grew up. “There weren’t many people around…Every book opened up my world,” she said. “I read every book in the library.”

She added, “It was a small library.”

Williams went on to earn a degree in child development from Cornell University and later earned a master’s degree in special education from the University at Albany.

Williams has run a nursery school, coordinated a Head Start program, and been a special-education teacher at Berne-Knox-Westerlo. Since retiring, she has been active volunteering — serving on the board of Friends Organized for Responsible Community Expansion and on Guilderland’s comprehensive planning committee. She has also volunteered as a tax aid.

Williams said that the bond defeat for the library expansion was “an overwhelming vote in part because people really didn’t understand the whole process.”

She also said, “Trustees need to increase community awareness about staff skills and resources…We need to work on inclusive planning.”

Williams said, too, “It’s important to keep up with advancements in technology…and how technology can help residents.”

The fact that only 3 percent of the library’s circulating materials are electronic, Williams said, means there is a “lack of people being aware of what they can do through the library electronically.” Residents need to be aware that “you don’t have to buy electronic books,” she said.

Williams went on, “Many of our senior citizens are afraid of computers and don’t know how to use computers or smartphones. The library could offer programs on them.”

On the library’s future direction, Williams said, “We have to be fiscally responsible. We have to have inclusive planning with library staff and administrators, and the people in the community. The 10-year plan can’t be made in isolation. I think that’s what happened with the bond issue.”

Williams “definitely” supports the proposed $3.5 million budget and said of the levy limit, “Probably, we can’t go more.”

She went on, “If the community realized all the library’s enriched activities, I think they would be willing to pay a dollar or two more to go over the cap.”

Williams’s favorite book as a child was Heidi by Swiss author Johanna Spyri; her grandmother read it her when she had pneumonia. “Heidi lived with her grandfather on a mountain…Her grandfather reminded me of my grandfather. He wasn’t a talker or a hugger but he was kind,” she said.

In her adult years, Williams said, André Schwarz-Bart’s The Last of the Just has been important to her. “It’s a fictional look at the history of the Jewish people, leading up to the Holocaust,” she said, concluding, “It left a great impression on me.”

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