Candidate for 4-Year Position: Saba A. Baig

LCLD Trustee Election
May 16, 2023

Question 1. In which Latah County community do you live?

Question 2. What kinds of civic experience qualifies you to be a library trustee?
I began attending library board meetings in May 2022 and have been serving as trustee on the board since July 2022, giving me a strong understanding of the Library’s operations. In addition to my hands-on experience as a Trustee, I have nearly 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector responsibly managing multimillion-dollar budgets, representing community members, meeting with local government stakeholders, and participating in strategic planning. As an attorney, I have an understanding of laws applying to libraries and have experience with negotiating and overseeing contracts. As a mother and frequent library user myself, I have a personal stake in seeing the library thrive as a place to learn, discover, and connect.

Question 3. What are the most important issues facing public libraries today?
One of the challenges libraries are facing is the sense that they are or should be a political space. There is a movement to make library content regulated by politicians instead of librarians, who are trained professionals who go to school to learn how to do their job in a way that benefits the entire community.

The movement towards censorship can be countered by practicing inclusion—to make sure all voices and opinions are heard. I will work with the Library Director, staff, and Board of Trustees to develop polices and grow the collection to provide access to all points of view. Libraries should respectfully consider community objections and complaints, but should not allow controversy alone to dictate policy.

Libraries level the playing field. As great democratic institutions, they serve people of every age, income level, location, ethnicity, and physical ability, and provide the full range of information resources needed to live, learn, govern, and work. We need to defend our libraries and help our librarians do the job they were trained to do.

Question 4. What is intellectual freedom and why is it important to all segments of society?
Intellectual freedom is the right to express and receive ideas without government interference. Our democracy is predicated on intellectual freedom, because citizens need free access to ideas and information in order to vote wisely. In a well-functioning free marketplace of ideas, the best ones win out, and our society improves. In addition, people need free access to ideas to further their own interests and lead meaningful lives.

In today’s world where the Internet makes knowledge widely accessible, libraries are actually more, not less important. Truth and lies exist side-by-side on the Internet, social media creates echo chambers, and many people do not know what to believe. This makes it critical to have a nonpartisan space for learning like libraries. Librarians are trained to curate library content to be reliable and educational, to exclude material that is obscene or hateful, and to teach people to research what is important to them. Libraries are spaces for our children to learn to value intellectual freedom, the foundation for our democracy.

Question 5. What is a public library’s role in promoting equity and inclusion in the community?
Libraries build community by connecting people to information and people to people. They foster a sense of belonging where all staff are supported, heard and encouraged to share ideas, and where all library users feel welcome, safe and respected as they follow their own pursuits.

Libraries can play an integral role in helping people develop understanding and respect for those from different economic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. In a country where people increasingly just interact with those who are just like them, libraries are spaces for everyone.

Question 6. List your top three goals if elected to a trustee position.
I will protect our libraries, books, and librarians. I will work to raise awareness about library policies so that people understand how they can best work with librarians to achieve their goals. At the same time, I will work to protect librarians’ professional autonomy to choose the books that represent the interests and values of all residents in Latah County.

I will work to improve and expand existing programs that serve our community, from popular children’s story hours, to educational events for home-schooled children, to efforts to bring books to people who have difficulty accessing libraries.

Last, some of our library spaces are too small for the communities they serve. I will work towards expanding the space available for a larger collection and to accommodate the increasing attendance at youth programs.