Joe Lombardo


Community Service/Volunteer Work
Founding member of Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace. National Coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). Member of the Palestinian Rights Committee. Member of the Troy Area Labor Council.
Other pertinent details
I am running because the library board has banned Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace after we held a program at the library with an Israeli who calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and whose book is also stocked in the library. The rights for groups and individuals have slowly been curtailed over time at the library where freedom of speech and debate must always be protected. Now they want to go further to curtail use of the library and are suggesting a fee to use the facilities or that organizations must be 401c3 registered organizations. These restrictions must be defeated.

Experience and goals

What do you consider your most meaningful career accomplishment?
I worked in IT for the state for 25 years. I raised 2 children in this community. I organized peace and justice organizations.
What skills do you bring to your tenure on the board?
A strong supporter of democratic rights and peace and a keen interest in education for all people.
What are your goals as a board member?
The library ended its community TV, has denied groups the right to show films without an impossible written permission from the producer. Selling of books and literature is denied. BNP has been banned, for 1 year without even a warning. More restrictions are being proposed. I want to reverse these practices.

Views about libraries

How does a library best serve its community?
Libraries are changing. Besides lending books, today they need to lead the way in bringing the community into the digital age. They can teach the community to make websites, blogs, podcasts, etc. as well as providing space to meet, discuss and debate. They should help bring the community together.
What are the most important issues facing public libraries today?
Freedom of speech is the main issue. The issue of library expansion is another, but we are only given 2 choices. Perhaps fixing the heating and cooling system and some expansion is necessary. Expansion of programs and services is more important than more space.
How are public libraries changing? How can a library board expedite these changes?
I believe we should call on the community and the students to do a study of our own where we look at what other communities are doing and what works as well as using the creativity of our own community. Libraries in many European cities have become real community centers. We should do the same.
How have libraries influenced your life?
I grew up before the digital age and learned in the library and formed many ideas there. Today it should be the same but with the internet and other tools it can be done at a much greater level.
What do you like best about Bethlehem Public Library?
The building is great but now needs improvement. The lawn outside needs to be kept and utilized more. The staff has always been very helpful.
What is your vision for the future of this library?
As mentioned above, I would like to see the library become more of a community center. Community groups need to be able to use the facilities and not restricted. I would like to see it as a true educational center for children and adults to really supplement the school.

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