Sarah Patterson

Bethlehem resident: 13 years
Adjunct Professor
Community service/volunteer work
President Elsmere Elementary PTA for 4 years since the fall of 2018 until today; University Libraries Student Advisory Board. SUNY Albany 2015-2016; President of the History Graduate Student Organization SUNY Albany 2013-2015.

Other pertinent details
I have been an Adjunct Professor of American History for seven years at both Siena College and SUNY Albany. During Covid, I also worked as a Noon Aide at Hamagrael Elementary. I have two sons aged (almost) 10 and 7 who attend Elsmere Elementary. In my free time, I love to read and travel.

What do you consider your most meaningful career accomplishment?
My most meaningful career accomplishment was defending my dissertation and completing my Ph.D. in December of 2021 as a single mom, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

What skills would you bring to your tenure on the board?
For 15 years I managed different Barnes & Noble Bookstores including the store in Saratoga Springs. In this role, I learned a lot about working with books, community engagement, and cultivating a “third place” for your community. (A third place is a place for socializing that is not your home or work.)

What are your goals as a library board member?
I hope to help the library to continue to grow and evolve in tandem with the changing needs of the community.

Views about libraries

How does a library best serve its community?
Recently I saw a meme about libraries that said something to the effect of “libraries are the only place you can go out in public where there is no expectation that you have to buy anything.” This is so true and so important. The library should be a gathering place for the community it serves.

What are the most important issues facing public libraries today?
I am sure funding is always a challenge. In addition, it must be difficult to find the right balance of services that the community needs in order for the library to be utilized and stay relevant.

How are public libraries changing? How can a library board expedite these changes?
Libraries continue to be more technologically driven and also more community-centric than in the past. The library board can expedite these changes by soliciting community feedback and then finding the best ways to implement what people want and need.

How have libraries influenced your life?
As a child growing up in rural New York State in the 1980s I had no neighbors, two fuzzy TV channels, and a well-worn set of Nancy Drew Mystery novels. When we got to go to the library it was the best day of my month! I couldn’t wait to pick out as many new books to read as my library card would allow.

What do you like best about the BPL?
I truly think everything about our library is fantastic. When my kids were younger we loved coming to storytimes. I checked out e-books during Covid, we have gotten seeds from the seed library, and my kids have seen the face of the moon with a telescope checked out from the library of things.

What is your vision for the future of this library?
I want to help the library continue to serve the community in new and innovative ways, while still maintaining the loaning of books as a core component. My goal is for it to be the community hub for everyone in Bethlehem!

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