County library chief leads state group

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Kari May, the director of the Elbert County Library District, assumed the presidency of the Colorado Association of Libraries during a conference held Oct. 17-19 in Loveland.

More than 600 Colorado librarians and library board members attended the respected association's annual three-day meeting.

CAL advocates statewide for quality library services, supports access to information and fosters the professional development of its members.

Association members include librarians, library employees, institutions and corporations drawn from public, school, academic, and special libraries; public library trustees; education administrators; library service providers; library vendors; volunteers; and library supporters.

May said CAL's goals are to support intellectual freedom, provide continuing education opportunities, pursue legislative initiatives and provide professional development and networking opportunities between librarians and civic leaders.

May's appointment to the top leadership position in the organization is actually a three-year commitment. “For the past year, I've served as the association's president-elect,” she said. “My term as president runs one year, after which I'll spend another year serving in the capacity of past-president.”

“I'm really excited about this opportunity to work with libraries and librarians from across the state,” May added. “It's going to be an exciting year.”

Originally from North Carolina, May, who has a master's degree in library sciences, has been the director of the county's library system for five years. Prior to coming to Elbert County, she spent seven years directing the High Plains Library in Greeley.

In her capacity as the county's library director, May oversees three branch libraries (Elizabeth, Kiowa and Simla) and two satellite facilities, which are located in the Elbert school and at the Singing Hills Fire Station.

The library district, which is overseen by a five-member board of directors, has an annual budget of $750,000 and operates independently from the county government.

“The library district has its own revenue source,” May explained, which comes from a mill levy on property taxes and vehicle registration fees.

Her duties as CAL president, May estimates, will take about five hours per week. “Mostly I'll be corresponding with other library professionals and planning the activities and direction of the organization,” she said.

“One of the most important things the organization does,” May added, “is to employ lobbyists to represent the interests of libraries to state legislators. A legislative committee serves as a liaison between the organization and state lawmakers.”

Recently, May said CAL was able to reintroduce into the state budget, after a 10-year period of dormancy, a $2 million line item for libraries across the state to spend on early literacy resources.

“That was a huge accomplishment,” May said. “We are hoping we can increase that to $5 million a year.”

May said her “platform” during the next year as CAL president is “integration. What that means,” she said, “is libraries of all types — school, public, academic — working together to increase the value of libraries in all of our communities.”

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