Howland Library to Hold Vote

Proposes 7 percent budget increase

The Howland Public Library District in Beacon will hold a vote on Thursday (April 27) asking residents to approve a 7 percent increase to its budget and fill two seats on its nine-member board.

The state tax cap for the library for 2023-24 is 1.02 percent, or $21,000; the board voted in February to exceed the cap with a 7 percent increase, or $90,000, for a tax levy of $1.37 million.

Director Kristen Salierno said that if the budget passes, it will allow the library to expand its collection and pay staff members who hold four-year degrees or higher “what is considered a livable wage in Dutchess County.”

There are four candidates for the two board seats, which have five-year terms: Elizabeth Murphy, Emily Pullen, Joseph Vergolina and Margaret Watkinson. Their statements are posted at and below.

The polls will be open at the library from noon to 8 p.m. All registered voters in the Beacon City School District are eligible, and absentee ballots are available.

Elizabeth Murphy

Elizabeth Murphy is a poet and editor and director of Grid Books, a nonprofit publisher of poetry, fiction and fine art editions. As an editor, she has dedicated her career to highlighting the work of older writers and artists and fostering projects generated through intergenerational exchange, such as those encompassing oral history and collaborations between students and their teachers. Her edition of literary correspondence, A Critical Friendship, was published in 2013 (University of Nebraska Press), and a collection of her poems, in the form of an exchange with the late poet Taylor Stoehr, was published in 2018 (Pressed Wafer).

Elizabeth holds a BA in Media Studies, an MA in Literary Editing and a certification in Instructional Design. As the director of a small press, she is familiar with the day-to-day concerns of a nonprofit and its board, and is experienced in grant writing and fundraising. She is also keenly aware of the challenges that libraries and publishers currently face when it comes to making books available and accessible to the public. She hopes to bring this experience and understanding to the role, as well as her dedication to issues of the accessibility and preservation of texts of all kinds.

Emily Pullen

Emily Pullen is an avid reader and activist who has worked in libraries and independent bookstores for more than 20 years, most recently for the New York Public Library. Whether by recommending books or making sure that a library’s collection meets the needs of its patrons, her focus is on serving the community.

As a member of the Beacon Rising Choir and the steward of a Free Little Library, she loves being a part of a community that values books, music, and the arts as much as she does. And the Howland Library is integral to supporting all of those things here in Beacon.

Local businesses and public libraries have the power to strengthen our community fabric, even when their books, programs, and funding are threatened and wielded as weapons to divide us. It is important to have a board that is willing to dig into the nuances of each issue and take a stand when necessary. Libraries should make communities stronger and provide access to all.

Joseph Vergolina

Hello, I’m Joe Vergolina. I have lived in Beacon for 15 years and my book addiction began at age 7 when I participated in my local library’s summer program (reading enough to earn an actual dinosaur bone fragment — Brontosaurus, upper thigh!).

I love school and learning and my degrees in Dramatic Writing (BFA, NYU) and Military History (Masters, Norwich University) highlight my twin passions, but I have made my living as a strategic account director, which is corporate-speak for someone whose job it is to connect disparate groups and (contractually) facilitate beneficial outcomes for all involved. I feel this positions me well to serve as a trustee and navigate various groups/viewpoints in pursuit of what is best for the city. To me, a library is a communal cornerstone, a place where everyone is welcome and has equal access to knowledge, information, technology and, yes, entertainment.

I was motivated to put myself up for consideration because of my lifelong association with libraries and because I want to be an advocate to make sure others continue to have the opportunity and access they provide — and because I reread Fahrenheit 451 and realized it wasn’t as fictional as it was when I first read it 30 years ago.

Margaret Watkinson

I am excited to be on the ballot and excited to join our library’s board of trustees. I moved to Beacon in 2011 after living in a college town on the mid-coast of Maine, and have been an early childhood and parenting educator most of my career. My experience serving as a board member in School Administrative District No. 75 and Holt Research Forest, both in Maine, as well as my experience as the founder of an inclusive preschool program, have all provided me with valuable opportunities to support a variety of avenues for lifelong learning. Supporting the mission of our public library as the place that provides so many free services and access to information is my goal.

I grew up immersed in books, strong in the belief that the public library was my place to discover new worlds, new viewpoints and topics, and relax and indulge new interests. I am a strong advocate for the mission of the library to provide resources, services and print materials for people and children from all walks of life. I look forward to supporting the library director and staff with the resources available to our community’s public library. I am firmly committed to spreading the word about the wonderful programs and services Howland Library offers, as well as helping to develop a clear vision for the future.

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