Getting to know Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees candidate Catherine Hadley

“When I was younger, it was where I fell in love with reading.”

Catherine Hadley is running for Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees. (Catherine Hadley)

ANN ARBOR – Tree Town native Catherine Hadley wants to serve the library system that helped her fall in love with reading.

The Truman Scholar and mom-of-two is running for one of the open seats on the Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees.

Hadley is no stranger to community service. She owns a maternal health review website and worked with Hungry For Justice MI to help pass a Michigan senate bill removing the felony ban for SNAP food assistance benefits.

She earned the Rosalie Ginsberg Dedicated Community Service Award in 2021 and the MLK Spirit Award in 2022 while studying at the University of Michigan.

Over email, Hadley said, “I am lucky to be running with Aidan Sova and Jim Leija as a slate for the library board this election season.”

The following interview was conducted via email.

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

As a lifelong Ann Arborite, the library has meant different things to me over the years. When I was younger, it was where I fell in love with reading. In young adulthood, it was where I went to work on my resume and access the internet. Now, as an adult, it is where our families go for storytime or to play chess by the fish tank. The AADL, to me, serves as a space where people can thrive in our community.

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 am proud to be endorsed by the MEA union, the Washtenaw Democratic Party, and Vote Mama. As a Truman scholar, I am a proud public servant. My work has ranged from successfully advocating for expanded food stamp access, securing childcare for high-need student parents, and opening kid-friendly spaces within the University of Michigan campus library system.

My current work focuses on coalition building across party lines within multiple states. My focus on community-centered change and my proven track record of successful advocacy make me well-suited to serve on the Ann Arbor Library Board and champion progressive work to face future challenges the board may face.

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?

We are seeing a great reimagining of what a library can be and how it can serve our community best. The library is the heart of our community, a space that is a great equalizer for our people. The evolution of services does not change the library space’s impact on our society; it just changes what that can look like in action.

From borrowable art to oversize chess games, the library is meeting the needs of the people in new and fantastic ways. For my family, it is the place where my kids fell in love with reading, learned how to play checkers, and celebrated when they turned in their points for the summer game. For you, it might be a different experience, but that is the beautiful thing about the library, it meets people at different stages of life where they are. I want to continue encouraging the progressive and innovative change we have seen the library make in response to the world around it.

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

I would love to continue the already stellar service that the library provides and support the experts we have on staff to meet the moment when it comes to providing for our community, as they have repeatedly proven to do.

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

I believe deeply in the adaptive and innovative service the library staff has dreamed up for our community. I want to continue to support them and their expertise on how to serve Ann Arbor best.

Learn more about Hadley’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.