Two new library board members appointed this week

December 20, 2018

The Columbus Public Library Board welcomed two new members following Mayor Jim Bulkley’s appointment of Stephanie Miller and Robert Hausmann earlier this week.

The seven-person governing board had been short two members for a few months in the wake of one former member leaving Columbus and Melodee Pedersen being required to step away after serving two, four-year terms, according to Library Director Laura Whitehead.

Filling the vacancies during this week’s Columbus City Council meeting was important, she said, noting none of the board members are figureheads – they actually complete meaningful work.

“In most of Nebraska – and certainly at our library – the library board is a governing body in contrast to serving as an advisory board, so they have real power,” Whitehead said. “Their job is to make operating and administration policies. They hire the director and are responsible for overseeing the budget. They are also very instrumental in serving as liaisons between the library and the community.”

Miller, who works remotely in Columbus for an Omaha-based recruitment firm, said she views the opportunity to serve on the board as a way to get a little more involved in the community she has been part of since moving to town in September 2016.

Raising three small girls, she said her extracurricular time is limited, however, she believes this is a beneficial venture.

“I moved here a little more than two years ago and have three kids, so life is definitely crazy,” she said. “But I thought that this was something that I would be able to commit to.”

Growing up in a house of educators, Miller said that overall knowledge and reading are two things that she’s always valued. She’s working to instill these principles in her daughters, ages 4, 6 and 18 months. The family has spent time at the library on several occasions participating and benefiting from its programming.

“Any programming we can offer in the community to get families excited about reading is a really good thing,” she said. “Also, with all the technology out there now, there are great tools for checking out books electronically and pursuing other avenues that promote learning.”

Hausmann is the current principal at North Park Elementary, and according to comments made by council President Charlie Bahr, believes cultivating reading skills is paramount for student growth, development and overall success.

“He believes reading is how we continue to grow personally and professionally, along with it being a great form of entertainment and the No. 1 way to stay informed about what’s happening in the world,” Bahr said, reading a prepared statement.

Bahr added that Hausmann said his No. 1 priority is teaching children to read and that he’s a firm believer that reading outside of the school setting is a major way for kids who struggle reading to enhance their book-reading skills.

The Telegram reached out to Hausmann Wednesday but he was not immediately available for comment.

Whitehead said people spending their time on the board to promote the nonprofit’s operation, along with creatively thinking of new ideas to boost the library, is greatly appreciated.

“It’s really important for what we do,” she said of the board’s efforts. “And we so appreciate the board because it’s a volunteer position that takes a lot of work and a real time commitment and helps the library to better serve the community.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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