In full transparency, the following was submitted to SOURCE media, as per the digital news media outlet’s election guide.
FRAMINGHAM – My name is Isabella Petroni. I have been a lifelong resident of Framingham, living south of Route 135.
Today, I am announcing my candidacy for Framingham Library Trustee. There are 6 seats on the ballot this November 2, and I hope you would use one of your votes for me.
I want everyone to find the library as welcoming and as enjoyable, as I did as a child, a teen, and now as an adult.
The library has been part of my life since I started reading at age 3. Some of my earliest memories involve the library – from getting my first library card, bringing home more books than I could carry, participating in book BINGOs, and purchasing bags and bags of books from the Friends of the Framingham Library book sale.
Even when I was only in middle school, I knew that I wanted to make a difference and improve the library for all. One of the librarians asked if I would like to join the new Teen Center Advisory Board. I was flattered she recognized my enthusiasm for the library, and of course, I said yes.
When the new Homework Center at the Framingham Public Library, launched a youth board, I again said yes when asked to join. I tutored elementary students and received tutoring help with my math classes in high school. I volunteered at the Center’s Geography Bee, the annual middle school spelling bees, the fashion show fundraisers, and participated in the Center’s annual essay contest. I worked with the youth board to develop activities for all.
This early introduction into volunteerism, in addition to 13 years as a Girl Scout, has led me on a path of public service, and it is one of the many reasons I want to be a Library Trustee. I want to give back to a community that has given me so much.
The Library is designed to be a place for all, no matter your gender, race, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, marital status, etc. But, it hasn’t always been represented that way.
While statistically individuals ages 18-25 use the library as often as people who are in their 60s or older, there is a general consensus that the library does nothing to keep us new adults engaged and coming back to the library. Programming is not aimed for people in their 20s or 30s. There is wonderful programming geared to adults with families and senior citizens, but not younger singles.
If I elected to the Board of Library Trustees, I will advocate for more programming geared to singles and those in their 20s and 30s. I participated in all of the fabulous programming for children and teens, and want opportunities for those like me monthly, if not weekly at the Framingham Public Library.
Every voice in the City of Framingham matters and should be heard. This is one of the reasons that I created the Framingham Youth Council, when I was just 17 and still in high school. Senior citizens had the Council of Aging to discuss issues pertaining to them, I wanted the youth – from all 9 Districts in the City – to have such a Council and to make change. And we have. Recently, an ordinance proposed by the 13-member Youth Council, passed unanimously by the City Council and was signed by the Mayor into law, requiring free menustral products in all municipal buildings, including both Framingham Public Libraries.
I served on Senate President Karen Spilka’s Youth Advisory Council, which was designed to connect politically active youths in her district and to help them gain experience through interacting with constituents and writing pieces of legislation.
I may be just 19 years old, but I authored and created legislation in the City to create the Youth Council, and I continue to advocate for improvements in our City.
If I am elected to the Board of Library Trustees, I would advocate for:
1. Increasing visibility of the bookmobile in all neighborhoods, especially on the Southside. I want to see the bookmobile make regular stops to Mary Dennison Park, the Coburnville-Tripoli neighborhood, the Woodcrest Acres neighborhood, but it should also make regular stops to places like Reardon playground, Pheasant Hill, and the major apartment complexes, etc. And the bookmobile when it visits these neighborhoods, should bring programming too. I love that the library created arts & crafts and other kits during the pandemic. As part of a bookmobile stop, I would love to see arts & craft kits or storytime hours as part of the stop. The bookmobile could also make themed visits throughout the City. Perhaps one month could focus on the Library of Things.
2. Creating library programming aimed at adults in their 20s and 30s and singles or young couples with no kids. Many cultural organizations like museums focus on hosting events exclusively for these individuals. The Framingham Public Library should do the same. There could be trivia nights, life skills nights, career nights, cooking events, etc. These events should also be held after-hours and weekends, which are the most convenient time for these working individuals.
3. Establishing partnerships with artists and arts organizations across Framingham, as well as local businesses that cater to adults in their 20s & 30s. Framingham has become a less friendly place for artists due to a loss of space when the the Danforth Building and the Fountain Street Art Studios were forced to close its doors. The spreading of artistic knowledge is just as important for a Library to do as spreading literary knowledge. Poetry slams are just one example. DIY crafting nights is another example. Again, use items from the Library of Things to gear events towards adults in their 20s & 30s. Perhaps have an acoustic guitar night or music lesson night. Offer self-care events, like how-to makeup nights, fashion swaps, yoga, etc. Pair up the events with local restaurants downtown and highlight books available at the library.
The library has added great new programming in recent years with exercise classes, gardening classes, and genealogy workshops. We need to market more to residents of the City that the library is not just a places for books or to rent movies but the center of the community.
My volunteer work and my studies in the environmental have taught me the importance of young people stepping up. If we wish to see the change in the world, we have to be the ones to initiate that change. That is the belief I held in starting the Youth Council and that is the belief I hold in running to be one of Framingham’s next Library Trustees.
Framingham is a great place, but it can be even better. Bringing in new, diverse perspectives is why we became a City. It was to allow people like myself to have a representative from my neighborhood on the City Council and the School Committee. It was to encourage new people to apply for boards and commissions. It was to actually practice Framingham’s shining value of diversity and inclusion, rather than just spouting it with no action.
Our main library, the branch library, and the bookmobile are shining examples of what is wonderful in our City. I want to support all three and expand on the gems they are in our city.
I am running to be a Library Trustee not just because I am qualified for this position, but I am running to provide a voice that is lacking on this Board – the voice of a young, LGBTQIA+ Southside woman.
Editor’s Note: In full transparency, Petroni is the daughter of the publisher/editor of SOURCE.