Jennifer Wheeler has been elected as the newest member of the Baldwin Public Library Board of Directors. Wheeler fills the position previously held by David Underdown, who chose not to run for re-election. At the Library Board election held on November 5, Wheeler, along with incumbents Bob Tera and Jim Suhay, were all elected to four-year terms that end in November 2023.
On Monday, November 18, from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m., the Library Board will host a reception to thank David Underdown for his twelve years of service as a Library Board member and to welcome and introduce Jennifer Wheeler to the community. The reception will be held in the Library’s lower level and will precede the November Board meeting.
2017-2019 Library Board Members (L to R): Frank Pisano, David Underdown, Melissa Mark, Bob Tera, Ashley Aidenbaum, Jim Suhay
David Underdown has been a staunch supporter of Baldwin, served as President of the Library Board, and actively participated on the Building Committee. He has also assisted the Library financially by making a generous contribution toward the Youth Room project and establishing the Linne Underdown Hage Forester Endowment Fund in memory of his sister.
Jennifer Wheeler has been a resident of Birmingham since 2010. She and her husband Paul have two young children who attend Pembroke Elementary, where Wheeler serves as the Vice President of the PTA. Wheeler has supported the Library as part of the Books & Bites fundraising committee and was the 2018 event chair.
Wheeler will bring the perspective of a parent of young children to the Library Board as the Library continues with its Youth Room expansion and renovation and its focus on expanding outreach programs for children. Wheeler notes, “I started bringing my sons to story times at Baldwin when they were three months old and we’ve met some of their best friends at the Library. I loved using the Troy library when I was growing up and I’m so excited to instill that same love for the library in my children.”
“We’re so excited to have Jenny join the Library Board. She brings with her a wealth of enthusiasm for the Library, strong organizational skills, and a friendly and approachable manner. She did an incredible job organizing and planning our Books & Bites fundraiser in 2018, which helped bring a new demographic of people to the library and raised over $25,000 for the Youth Room,” said Director Doug Koschik.
Jennifer Wheeler sat down with Associate Director Rebekah Craft on November 5 to answer a few questions.
Q: What is your favorite part of the Baldwin Library?
I love the Youth Room and was sad to say goodbye just before the room was closed for construction. My kids, Thomas (6) and Henry (4) have made so many great memories at the Library. I’m so excited for the Youth Room Renovation and my kids ask me every day when the Youth Room will be finished.
Q: What do you think are the major issues facing libraries today?
Foot traffic and slow decline of borrowed materials.
Q: How would you increase Baldwin’s presence in the community?
Additional partnerships with the schools. With the recent district budget cuts, I think there is an opportunity to connect with the schools to see if there are resources Baldwin can share. For example, recently Raz Kids, a math and reading app for kids in grades K-2 was no longer funded by the district. It would be nice if Baldwin had or could offer an online service that is comparable and possibly hold events to promote the service and increase foot traffic.
Q: What unique skill set do you bring to the Library Board?
I am very engaged in both the Pembroke School community as the PTA Vice President and the Birmingham community as a whole. As a mother of two young children, I use the Library in a different way than the other board members. Also, I work as a vacation planner and am very good at organizing and planning activities and events.
Q: What’s the last favorite book you read?
The last book I actually read was Peppa Pig “Let’s Tell Time.” I think it’s important for kids to learn how to tell time on a traditional clock. The last book I read for myself was Birnbaum’s 2019 Walt Disney World: The Official Vacation Guide, checked out from here at Baldwin.
Q: What’s the last favorite movie you saw at the theater?
I was surprised by how much I loved Solo: A Star Wars Story. I wasn’t sure about a new actor playing Han Solo, but I was pleasantly surprised and ended up adoring the film. Needless to say, I already have tickets to The Rise of Skywalker!
Q: Is there anything else that you want to add?
My husband, Paul, became a U.S. citizen in May this year. I will be the first candidate he’s voted for in a U.S. election. And, I’m really looking forward to planning and hosting the 2020 Books & Bites fundraising event next fall. It’s such a great way to encourage more people to engage with the Library!