We invited everyone running for an uncontested seat in next week’s elections to provide written answers to a few questions about diversity, equity, and inclusion in Holliston. So far we’ve received two responses, one from Maria Constantinides who is running for the Housing Authority and one from Andrea McCoy, who is running for Library Trustee. We share Andrea’s answers below and Maria’s are available here.

You can also learn more about Andrea in her candidate profile on the Holliston Reporter.

If you are elected to the position, what do you think are the priorities for Holliston going forward?

If I were elected to the Library Board of Trustees, I would like to see Holliston’s bid for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) as a top priority in the coming years. The opportunity to be considered for matching funds towards the rehabilitation of the existing public library or reconstruction of a new library would be instrumental for the Holliston Public Library’s future.
Do you foresee any specific obstacles to making progress on those priorities?

I was reassured by the overwhelming support for Article 28 at our recent Town Meeting. That was among the first steps in a long journey towards a physical space that will allow our library to extend and even expand upon its current mission. I recognize that there are many other priorities in town, including other buildings that are well past their prime and in need of repair. However, I see our Library as integral to our community’s future growth and I’m up for the challenge of assisting in the process of navigating a path forward.

What are your specific strategies and plans for addressing those obstacles?
I would apply my experience working as a Department Head in a nearby library to see if any successes we’ve had might be replicated to further develop the Holliston Public Library’s existing offerings. One concrete example of this is the development of a more cohesive volunteer pipeline from both RAMS and the High School to the Library. Where I work, we are only able to offer daily take-and-make crafts in our Children’s Room, for example, because of the wonderful middle and high school volunteers who walk to the library after school to put them together for us. I’d love to see what the Holliston Library already offers further expanded through similar volunteer efforts in a way that doesn’t overtax the staff.

In your opinion, how is Holliston currently leading effectively with a lens of equity and inclusion, and where could we be doing better?
In all of our community spaces, we need to be doing the work to remove barriers, to increase representation, and to uplift voices that have historically been excluded. From a library perspective, providing more varied programming and materials is an integral aspect of this work and a clear way to demonstrate a commitment to increased equity and inclusion. The Publishing industry is currently undergoing its own DEI efforts and, as a result, extensive offerings of materials centering diverse characters and/or written by diverse authors are becoming much more readily available. Allocating resources to ensure that our collection represents everyone is critical to Holliston’s continued development.

We are expecting budget shortfalls this year, for example in the Holliston Public Schools. What concrete ideas and strategies do you suggest to address this challenge?
The Holliston Public Library is doing a fantastic job taking advantage of a variety of grants, such as the afore-mentioned Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) and the recent Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant supporting the Children’s Room play space. Seeking and applying for additional state and federal grants is a great way to fill in potential gaps in funding, but it’s also incredibly time consuming. The Friends of the Holliston Public Library and the Board of Trustees can be an important part of supporting this process.

Holliston has to submit a Housing Production Plan this year. What do you think the goals of Holliston’s Housing Production plan should be? What are the opportunities this presents? What are the obstacles and how should they be addressed?
I believe that Holliston’s Housing Production Plan should include the diversification of the types of housing our town is able to offer in order to better meet the needs of a wider range of residents. For our part, libraries can strive to be a “third space.” In other words: not home, not school/work, but a third option. As such, libraries are integral resources for the communities they serve, supporting users across a variety of circumstances. In that regard, the Holliston Public Library can support the Housing Production Plan by offering a variety of services: from free birth-to-three enrichment programming to various cost-reducing measures (i.e. a Library of Things).