As the John Jermain Memorial Library looks ahead to a post-pandemic world and the challenge of replacing Catherine Creedon, who will step down at the end of the year after serving 14 years as its director, six candidates are running for five open seats on its board of directors.
The terms of Gloria Primm Brown and William McCoy were extended by one year due to the pandemic, so they are limited to seeking two-year terms. Neither is opposed.
Those seeking three-year terms are incumbent Ann Sutphen and three other candidates, former board member Dan Glass, Diane Deger, and Steve Reiner.
Voting will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 7. Voters will also be asked to approve the library’s $3,296,525 budget, which carries a spending increase of 2.8 percent after having been frozen last year during the pandemic.
Ms. Brown is a native of Washington, D.C., who began her professional career in her home town as a children’s librarian before moving to New York, where she received her master’s degree in library science from Columbia University and worked for the Carnegie Corporation, first as a librarian, and later as senior program officer and director of the foundation’s effort to revitalize its public libraries in Africa.
Since moving to Sag Harbor full-time in 2004, Ms. Brown has been active in the community, including serving 11 years as president of the Friends of the John Jermain Memorial Library.
She said she was optimistic that libraries would continue to play a major role, but added that JJML needs to continue its outreach to the underserved members of the community and be creative in the search for resources to cover an expanded program.
Mr. McCoy, a native of Sagaponack, received an MBA from Duke University and worked in the corporate world before returning to the East End, where he started a real estate appraisal business. He also serves as Southampton Village assessor. He is a member of the Vestry at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Southampton, but village residents may recognize him from his role as a trumpet player in the Sag Harbor Community Band.
Mr. McCoy said the library needs to be ready to pivot quickly in a fast-changing world and needs to continue its outreach efforts to ensure that it is meeting the needs of its constituents.
“People are not aware really that we are more than just books, that we offer so many things,” he said.
Diane Deger, a former gallery owner and retired teaching assistant in the Sag Harbor Elementary School library, who also served as director of education for Guild Hall in East Hampton, is also a candidate.
“As a JJML trustee, I hope to continue to build on the many programs offered to our wonderful and diverse community,” she said. “My background prepares me to work with the school-library connection. Sag Harbor children have memorable experiences at JJML and I embrace the opportunity to contribute my passion and experience to the library’s programming on all levels.”
Dan Glass, a former board member, is seeking another term. A native of upstate New York, Mr. Glass moved to Sag Harbor in 1997 after meeting his wife, Jennifer, a Sag Harbor native.
The local library always played an important role in his family’s life, and he said he wanted “to help continue the stewardship … for families in the community for many years to come.”
Steve Reiner, a retired journalist, who was executive producer of NPR’s “All Things Considered,” a producer for “60 Minutes,” and a journalism professor at Stony Brook University, recently moved full-time to Sag Harbor after living here part-time for 18 years.
Mr. Reiner said public libraries are one of the few institutions that are still trusted by the American public. “We are living in a time, obviously, when the social fabric and political fabric is being tested and perhaps is a bit frayed,” he said. “I think the role of the public library is really to be the thread that can hold that fabric together.”
As a journalist and educator, Mr. Reiner said he had the background needed to help the library continue its mission of “providing relative, accurate, actionable, information” to the broader community.
Ms. Sutphen, the sole incumbent among the candidates for three-year terms, is a former vice president and the board’s current treasurer. She said her experience as a small business owner who has also worked for nonprofits for more than 10 years made her an asset to the board.
She praised the library’s staff for its performance during the pandemic and said she viewed her role as trustee was to support the staff during such difficult times.
“It is a great honor to serve on this dynamic board,” she said. “Libraries are changing rapidly, from a collection of books to a collection of ideas, programs, community resources, electronic tutorials, historical artifacts, seeds, and well, books. And JJML is at the forefront.”
Hampton Library Results
Voters in Bridgehampton and Sagaponack overwhelmingly approved the Hampton Library’s proposed $1,569,900 budget on Tuesday by a total margin of 66 to 8.
No candidates filed nominating papers to represent Sagaponack, but Deborah Oppenheimer received six write-in votes to defeat Sabrina Allen, who received two write-in votes, to be elected to the board.