Getting to know Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees candidate Aidan Sova

“I care deeply for the community members impacted by the library’s services”

Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees candidate Aidan Sova. (Aidan Sova)

ANN ARBOR – University of Michigan graduate and newly-minted Ann Arborite Aidan Sova wants to serve his chosen community as a trustee of the Ann Arbor District Library.

He is a current City of Ann Arbor Human Rights Commissioner, a full-time Google Solutions Consultant and a part-time Master of Liberal Arts student at the University of Pennsylvania.

His work with the Tree Town community and volunteerism has earned him public recognition including the University of Michigan MLK Spirit Award and the State of Michigan’s Youth Volunteer of the Year award.

At just 23 years old, Sova would be the youngest Black person elected in Ann Arbor history if voted onto the Board.

The following interview was conducted via email.

As an Ann Arborite, what does the AADL mean to you?

The Ann Arbor District Library represents the very best of us. At a surface level, the system acts as an entity that our entire community consistently relies on for professional services, access to information, and exceptional programming. However, to me, libraries have had an unquantifiable impact on my life.

As a low-income youth, summers could be exceedingly difficult as numerous resources provided by the public school system would slip from my grasp. Existing struggles magnified as academic activities, opportunities to utilize the Internet, and no-cost hot lunches vanished for three months. Not being able to afford or maintain dependable transportation, my mother and I would regularly walk to the nearby library to fill that void. After my mother’s arduous shifts at work, she would ensure that I enjoyed intellectual stimulation, near infinite resources for my independent scholarly works, and even a bite or two during events.

I firmly believe that my mother’s love, coupled with the expansive services of our local library, saved me from being lost in the violent waves of poverty. As such, in my eyes, the Ann Arbor District Library is a respite for all to benefit from — but, particularly, for those who lived similar lives to mine. I am running for a seat on the Board of Trustees because I care deeply for the community members impacted by the library’s services, to utilize my unique perspective to champion the underserved, and to empower the continued success of the system.

What about your background and experience do you think will most help you tackle future challenges that the AADL and its Board may face?

I was raised in a single parent, low-income household. I greatly benefitted from the community programming and access to information provided by the local library system. Beyond my professional accolades and formal opportunities to serve, I am supremely qualified for the position, as my experiences in poverty birthed a dependency on the local library. I will utilize this perspective to advocate for those who rely on the Ann Arbor District Library for similar services.

At the University of Michigan, I led the 500,000+ students of the academic conference as Executive Director of the Association of Big Ten students. Now, I work at Google full-time as a Consultant, while also serving as a Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Ann Arbor, Board Member at Grow Jackson, and Emerging Leaders Council Member for the Legal Services Corporation — a federal non-profit annually awarded ~$500+ million by Congress.

Additionally, I study as a part-time Master of Liberal Arts student at the University of Pennsylvania through a virtual program. Previously, I worked on the State of Michigan’s Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities at the invitation of Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. Such opportunities of leadership positioned an innate comfortability with budget management, complex stakeholder engagement, and sustained advocacy for the communities I care about so deeply. In recognition of capability, the Washtenaw County Democratic Party has proudly offered an endorsement.

Staying relevant in a fast-paced world is often seen as a challenge for libraries. What is something that you would want to help the library do in order to remain valuable and relevant to all Ann Arborites?

Thankfully, the Ann Arbor District Library already holds great relevance to its community. I hold the opinion that the system connects so well with the city as a result of its continued focus on programming. As a Trustee, I will support the Library’s immensely talented, creative staff to continue and build on this excellent work. Furthermore, with my previous dependency on the local library system in mind, I will diligently advocate for its workers, leaders, and enjoyers within our wider community.

What would you like to see more of at the library?

There are many who would be eager to witness certain books, public resources, and academic sources removed from the library system. Particularly, there have been recently demonstrated efforts to entirely rid sections related to the education of and about underrepresented groups, factual references in history, and additional insights into the plight of marginalized people.

Consequently, it is extremely important that all involved in the library system are impassioned to protect the public resource and maintain its existence as a safeguard. From the Ann Arbor District Library system, I hope very much to see an increased commitment to preserving its full selection of books as I intend to proudly demonstrate the same priority.

Are there any changes that you would make to the library system? If so, how would you help facilitate those changes?

The Ann Arbor District Library should continue to serve as an inclusive and welcoming place for every member of our community. If I am elected, I would aim to bolster efforts that aid people from low-income households. As previously noted, I spent the large majority of my life steeped in the suffocating effects of poverty and associated marginalization.

My background makes me uniquely positioned to understand the urgency in ensuring Library resource access for the economically disadvantaged. Additionally, with the Library’s focus on diversity as an important lens for making decisions about how to best serve patrons, my experiences as a young, Black man would bring a needed perspective to decisions about the system’s future strategies, direction setting, and allocation of funds.

Should I be successful in this bid for public office, I would be the youngest Black person ever elected to any position within the City of Ann Arbor.

Learn more about Sova’s candidacy here.

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.