Farmington City Council appoints two new trustees to library board

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published August 25, 2020

 Kelly

Kelly

 Styrd

Styrd

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FARMINGTON — Two new trustees have been appointed to the Farmington Community Library Board to represent the city of Farmington.

Farmington City Council members unanimously voted to appoint Michele Kelly, who will serve a term ending June 30, 2022, and Megan Stryd, who will serve a term ending June 30, 2023, at their Aug. 17 meeting. Council members also accepted the resignation of former Library Board Trustee Jessica Bomarito and reappointed Library Board Trustee Robert Hahn at the meeting.

Five candidates in total applied for the open seats.

The appointments didn’t come easily for all council members, however. Council member Joe LaRussa, when asked to submit two candidate names for consideration, reluctantly only offered up one. He explained that he was hesitant to nominate anyone given the library’s current state of affairs, which has been rife with controversy the past few months.

LaRussa said he was worried about burnout or appointees deciding to resign before their term expires. Eleven library board members have resigned in roughly the last two years.

At the Aug. 17 meeting, LaRussa recommended postponing any appointments until the council could see how everything shakes out, but Council member Steve Schneemann said that not filling the two vacancies would only exacerbate the issues. Appointing two new trustees, Schneemann said, would bring back some stability and balance.

The two new appointments brought the library board back closer to full strength, with seven of eight seats filled. Farmington Hills currently has one seat open.

 

Michele Kelly
As the dean of liberal arts and sciences for Schoolcraft College, Michele Kelly said she believes one of her greatest strengths is working and improving interpersonal relationships “with people who have a lot of power,” a skill she acknowledges she’ll likely have to use stepping into this position.

“I’m hoping that everybody who currently serves on the board will give me and (Stryd) a chance to offer our talents and expertise, and hopefully, internally, we can overcome any interpersonal issues that haven’t even been invented yet.”

What she’s more interested in, however, is building a relationship with Library Director Riti Grover. “I am hopeful that the board can work to empower her,” she said.

Kelly has a PhD from the University of South Carolina, a master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University.

Serving on multiple boards of directors currently and previously — such as the Rotary Club of Mount Clemens, the Anton Art Center and the Macomb Art Authority — Kelly is no stranger to the role of a board member.

She said a good board of trustees handles the budget, sets policies and participates in strategic planning, but it doesn’t necessarily get involved in the day-to-day operations.

She said she’d like to invest in technology, including the website, which she said “kind of sucks,” and has become, for many, the only method of accessing the library’s resources during the building’s closure. She would also like to leverage the library’s partnership with the Friends of the Library more. Beyond that, she plans to step back and give the librarians space to implement programming that will attract a wide variety of audiences.

She said she hopes she can help alleviate the suffering this pandemic has brought on the library, but she’s not totally blind to the situation she’s walking into.

“It’s a little scary, I guess, when you’re coming into something with such passionate rhetoric around it, but I made a commitment. I’m just going to do my best and put my best foot forward … in order to move the board forward.”

 

Megan Stryd
As the director of a homeschool group, including homeschooling her six children, and with a bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy from Michigan State University, Stryd believes she brings a unique perspective to her new board seat.

“As a homeschool mom, I don’t have all the financial and (other) stuff as my background, but I do have a wide management of looking at needs from a large group of people and making sure everyone’s needs are being met, and not just focused on certain areas,” she said during her council interview Aug. 6.

As a current board member for the Child Evangelism Fellowship, Stryd said she brings some operational knowledge to the table. She said she believes the library board trustees’ role is to ensure the library’s services remain stable and that they meet the needs of every individual in the community, “that it’s not just there for young kids, teenagers or adults, but for disabled people who need the internet (or) people who need a variety of services,” she said.

Stryd knew this seat wouldn’t be an easy role to step into, though that didn’t hold her back.

“That’s one thing I’d say is one of my strengths: I stick with things that I’ve said I’m going to do. Thick and thin, hard and easy, I like to be a woman of my word and stick with things,” she said, adding that she acknowledges the difficult decisions current board trustees have had to make but would like to work to repair relationships with staff moving forward.

“We’re in a special time. This is unprecedented. No one knows what we’re supposed to be doing. I think that we have amazing librarians that feel they got a last-minute decision thrown at them,” she said. “I understand the furlough. I understand why that needed to be done. … I don’t stand here and judge (the board of trustees), but I think the step forward is trying to repair some of those relationships so that (staff) feel secure in their jobs and secure that things won’t change at the last minute like they did. That’s what I would do moving forward.”

Another improvement Stryd suggested was adding some outside activities if the library is capable, though she would rather err on the side of safety before pushing for more programming during the pandemic, she said.

For more information, visit farmlib.org.

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