Governor Appoints Library Board Members, Chairperson

[Sept. 7, 2018] The Office of Library and Information Services is pleased to announce that Governor Gina M. Raimondo has appointed five new members to the Library Board of Rhode Island and reappointed 4 members. The Rhode Island Senate provided its advice and consent to the appointments at the end of the 2018 legislative session. On August 20, the Governor appointed Melody Drnach to serve as the new Chairperson of the Board to replace outgoing Chair Thomas Viall.

The new appointments are:

  • Aaron Coutu, of Burrillville, representing General Library Users. Mr. Coutu is currently the Assistant Director of the Cumberland Public Library and adjunct faculty at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies. He is also Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Jesse M. Smith Library in Burrillville and past president of the Rhode Island Library Association. In addition to his library work, Mr. Coutu serves on the Burrillville Juvenile Hearing Board, the Burrillville School Committee's Anti-Bullying Task Force, and the Burrillville Recreation Commission.
  • Heidi Blais, representing Library Media Specialists. Ms. Blais is the Library Media Specialist at Cranston High School East, and previously worked as a school library media specialist at the Hugh B. Bain Middle School (Cranston) and several Cranston elementary schools. In 2015, she was one of three finalists for the RI Teacher of the Year and was Teacher of the Year for the Cranston Public Schools in 2014. A frequent presenter of professional development workshops, Ms. Blais has served on the executive board for the School Librarians of RI and worked with the RI Innovation Consortium to design an evaluation rubric for library media specialists.
  • Marcus P. Mitchell, of Providence, representing General Library Users. Mr. Mitchell is an executive level economic development, community development, and business solutions professional. He was the founding president of the Providence Community Library (PCL), serving from 2008-2012, and continues to serve as chair of the PCL Advisory Council. Mr. Mitchell has served on numerous boards for health care organizations and community action groups, and has spearheaded community action in Providence and Philadelphia; he is also active in the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  • Leslie Page, representing the Economically Disadvantaged. Ms. Page is the Director of the Woonsocket Harris Public Library, beginning her tenure by overseeing a major renovation of the library in 2001. She has created partnerships with community agencies such as Community Care Alliance, Connecting for Children and Families, and the Woonsocket Health Equity Zone to increase programs for under-served populations. Under her leadership, the library developed the multi-generational, multi-ethnic My Woonsocket Life project in partnership with the city Planning Department to bolster the city's self-image.
  • Amanda Richman, representing Corporate and Special Librarians. Ms. Richman is the Systems Librarian for Rhode Island Hospital (Lifespan) Libraries, where she is responsible for electronic resources and the recent migration of the catalog to a new integrated library system. She has also worked as a librarian at the Sanford-Brown Institute in Providence, Wheelock College in Boston, and the Providence Public Library. Ms. Richman is a member of the North Atlantic Health Sciences Libraries and past president of the Association of RI Health Sciences Libraries.

The following members were reappointed:

  • Kenneth Findlay, Adult Correctional Institution, representing people who are institutionalized.
  • Rosita Hopper, Johnson & Wales University, representing academic libraries.
  • Monica Nazareth-Dzialo, of Pawtucket, representing users of the Talking Books Library.
  • Robert Sloan, East Greenwich Free Library, representing public library trustees.

Chair Melody Drnach of Jamestown was appointed to the Library Board of Rhode Island by Governor Raimondo in June 2016. Ms. Drnach has worked as a community engagement coordinator and researcher at Brown University and was the Vice President for Action at the National Organization of Women in Washington, DC from 2005-2009. A long-time community activist, she has served on boards of directors for the Women's Resource Center of Newport, Ocean State Action, 2:1 Coalition for Choice, and Marriage Equality RI. Ms. Drnach succeeds Thomas Viall, who has served as chair of the board since September 2010.

The Office of Library and Information Services welcomes the new members of the Library Board and Chair Drnach. We extend our deep appreciation to outgoing members Edward Garcia (representing the Economically Disadvantaged), Phyllis Humphrey (representing School Library Media Specialists), Rose Ellen Reynolds (representing General Library Users), and Chair Tom Viall (representing General Library Users and serving as chair since 2010).

The next meeting of the Library Board is on Monday, September 17 at 4:15 pm at the RI Department of Administration. All meetings are open to the public. The current agenda, minutes, and other information about the Board are available on the OLIS website.