Westborough Candidate Statements – Library Trustees – Michael Karp


Westborough Candidate Statements – Library Trustees – Michael Karp
Michael Karp

First, say a little bit about yourself.

My wife and I moved around quite a bit for schooling and work since getting married in the late 1960s. The home we bought in Westborough in 2001 was our sixth house. When we downsized recently, we chose to stay in the town we had grown to love.

I have degrees from Franklin & Marshall and Brandeis, and additional graduate study at Harvard, Bryn Mawr, Penn and Colorado Tech. My professional work includes 10 years as both a teacher in a small rural school district and as head of the English Department at a large urban high school. I followed this with 40 years in the computer industry as a developer, marketer and industry analyst. This experience has given me a chance to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

I am retired. Now, I plan to focus on finding ways that education, businesses and government can work together to identify and achieve common goals.

Why are you running for Library Board of Trustees?

Our library was built in 1908. It houses a variety of town facilities and valuable historical documents. It has weathered the years as gracefully as possible. Unfortunately, its climate control system now requires parts that haven’t been manufactured in years, it is covered by a roof that leaks, basic facilities are not ADA compliant, and it has windows that – if opened – cannot be shut due to rotting woodwork.

Prioritizing expenditures will best be done by working with the library staff and friends of the library to fix what most needs to be fixed while deferring action on other items. In this way we can make sure our library will grow in a thoughtful and measured way that protects our existing investment, ensures continuation of valuable services, and prepares our kids and adults for the future.  I’d like to be part of the team that does that.

What do you think would be the best way to keep the library as a viable resource for years to come?

Libraries have always stored books, but ours does much more. It provides study space for kids outside of school hours, offering quiet spaces (with limited distractions) for study, tutoring and doing homework. It brings materials out to homes, and to facilities where learners of all ages can have greater access to them. It can do tech training to open up access to technology for folks who at present cannot make good use of what we have. And it is a space where seniors can relax and read, where young children can learn to read, where adults can do job searches, and where all can access the expertise of librarians. Importantly, it is a place that is monitored and safe. 

All these services deserve to be continued. They will become even more useful if we can put added emphasis on outreach to parts of the community that currently don’t use library services. 

A useful mantra here might be “more outreach, with increasingly flexible use of existing space.”

With the defeat of the Town Meeting warrant article to expand and renovate the library, the Library Building Committee and the Trustees have switched their focus to repair work. What do you consider to be the “most needed” repairs.

Areas of major concern include physical infrastructure, electrical infrastructure and temperature control, and community health and safety. 

Physical infrastructure needs include leaking windows that, once opened, cannot be reclosed because they are set in rotted casements; leaking basement pipes and a century-old leaking roof that requires repair to both horizontal and slate surfaces, and ceilings that sag due to water damage. 

Electrical infrastructure problems include outdated wiring, and obsolete HVAC and air handling equipment, some of which is so old that repair parts are no longer available.

Community health and safety concerns include failing electrical controls for air handlers, one of which caused a recent fire, and two bathrooms that do not meet ADA standards because their doors are too narrow to permit wheelchair access.

The list of necessary repairs is long, but much of the building is over 100 years old. Our challenge will be to fix what is broken while both respecting budgetary restrictions and maintaining the integrity of a Westborough landmark.

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