In preparation for the midterm elections, The Michigan Daily sat down with candidates in the Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees race to talk about their background, previous experiences and goals for the upcoming term. Six candidates are vying for three open seats this November. The non-partisan position runs on four-year terms and will be on the ballot for all Ann Arbor residents, regardless of their ward or district of residence.

Candidates Jim Leija and John Schaeffer did not respond in time for publication.

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Aidan Sova

The Michigan Daily: What is your title and pronouns, what are you running for and where are you from?

Aidan Sova: Aidan Sova, Product Solutions Consultant at Google, he/him, running for District Library Board Member, from Jackson, Mich.

TMD: Why are you interested in running for this position? 

AS: I was raised in a low-income, single-parent household, and the summers were particularly difficult for both me and my family. With the school closing, I no longer had such sustained resources from the school system, meaning I did not have access to the internet or any other associated services. Additionally, I lost out on a great deal of programming, access to books, resources and other opportunities to combat food insecurity. After my mother’s intense, very long shifts at her job, we would walk down to the Jackson District Library, and we found this was very restorative. We enjoyed things beyond books — even just the air conditioning and other services that our libraries very thankfully provide.

I grew up with a very distinct dependency on the library system. That perspective is hugely important as we have the opportunity to make strategic decisions for the Ann Arbor District Library System … I think that there are folks who are affected by the benefits from our library system in the ways that I did, and I hope very much to champion the underserved individuals, if I were to be elected.

TMD: How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

AS: I’m very thrilled to say that that experience alone was hugely impactful in my life. I firmly believe that the library system molded me as an individual and person and professional, but even beyond that, I do have a host of very wide reaching professional experiences. While at the University of Michigan, I led the 500,000-plus students at academic conferences as the Executive Director of the Association of Big Ten Students. 

I currently work at Google full-time as a consultant, and I also work as a Human Rights Commissioner for the city of Ann Arbor, as well as a board member at Grow Jackson, a nonprofit from the Jackson area.

TMD: Tell me about your platform. What are the most important points?

AS: Something I’m hoping to bolster with my insights is to identify where the invisible difficulties exist that come with being a low-income resident. I’m very confident that we’ll be able to adequately represent that. Meaning, when we are making these legislative, strategic decisions, that is an insight that I think is currently missing from the board that I would be able to provide. 

But furthermore, if elected, I would be the youngest ever Black person successfully elected to office here in Ann Arbor. My experiences are, of course, multifaceted, but as a low-income Black youth, that is something that I’m looking to provide and is very hugely important to our platform. 

But additionally, it is no secret that there are many who are working diligently to remove certain books, resources and academic sources completely from the library system. Many of these efforts to nearly rid sections of education about underrepresented groups or references in history, or just insights into the general plight of marginalized people, is a very big focal point right now. I believe that it’s hugely important that all in leadership of our library system are really empowered to protect that public resource and maintain its existence. 

TMD: Is there anything you want to say to college students?

AS: I think that it is very easy for college students to get very swept up in our individual lives. When I was a college student, I was so focused on uplifting both me and my family out of poverty that my civic engagement did not necessarily spread its wings until much later in college when I was more financially secure. Although I believe that that is okay, and we are very much witness to our circumstance, in many instances, I just strongly encourage the college students of our area to recognize that their force is only becoming increasingly powerful as we continue to grow and develop as professionals and really start to make our mark on the world. 

All I want to do is help people who perhaps went through a similar circumstance to me, and I think that the key to doing that is through our college students, because we’ve shown demonstrated and wide empathy. We’ve shown that we are ready for leadership opportunities, and we’ve shown that we’re very hungry to change the world for the better.

TMD: Why should students vote for you?

AS: I think that I know very uniquely much of the college student experience. But additionally, in my own personal life, I very much felt like I was beyond the stereotypical “broke college student” but I was just destitute. Despite such poverty, I made time to connect with people and I made time to again represent and lead as many folks as I can. The point being is that I feel very strongly that I empathize with many of our college students who are struggling with their own financial means. I see the range and the opportunity and the reach of all that we’re doing. Not only are we the leaders and the best but I think that college students are the leaders of today. And so, as I’m attempting to do the same, and run alongside you and champion the very same needs as you, I’m just very hopeful that I could be elected to do so.”

Daily Contributor Rebecca Lewis can be reached at

Catherine Hadley

The Michigan Daily: What is your name, title and pronouns? What are you running for? Where are you from?

Catherine Hadley: Catherine Hadley, she/her, (I’m) a state campaign manager at Patriotic Millionaires, running for the Ann Arbor Library Board of Trustees from Ann Arbor, Mich.

TMD: Why are you interested in running for this position? 

CH: I see the Ann Arbor library branches as one of the last spaces where people can just exist in our community, and that’s really sacred to me. I’ve been loving what the people that are currently elected have been doing. They’re making this really reactive and progressive service. And I want to make sure that that continues to happen in Ann Arbor.

TMD: How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

CH: I’m a Truman Scholar and a non-traditional student. I just graduated from U of M last spring and my background and passion has always been in public service. My background has ranged from advocating for food stamp expansion, to securing childcare for high-need student parents on the U of M campus and opening up family friendly spaces at the University library system. But a lot of my work is just focused on generating the greater good. My current work focuses on building coalitions across party lines within multiple states. So I go in, and I talk to people that maybe don’t get talked to a lot and are left out of conversations about how we can build movements to make better spaces for them. I think my background and having a track record of really amplifying the voices of folks that are not often heard, and successfully advocating for their needs, will really help with the Ann Arbor library board.

TMD: Tell me about your platform. What are the most important points?

CH: I’m running on a slate with Aiden Sova and Jim Leija, and so for us, it’s really about continuing the service that’s already been great. I think that we saw in the pandemic some really amazing work by the staff to meet the needs of the city as things happened, and I also think we’re seeing this great reimagining of what libraries can serve and what they can do in communities. So my role is to make sure that the staff can do those things that help us have a better community and thrive. My hope is to just continue to really be able to meet the needs, in ways that people expect but also in ways that people don’t maybe necessarily expect but then are so helpful. I can say as a parent, the summer game, having that was so important. I have a three and a four-year-old and it’s just, you know, it’s an important space for them to exist in, and so more of that is my platform.

TMD: Is there anything you want to say to college students?

CH: College students are a part of this community, too. I think college students are often left out of the conversation. And I think that, especially as somebody that was just in that spot and hopes to go back soon, AADL is a resource for you. And don’t be afraid to use it. I think one of the best parts about running for Library Board has been getting to tell people all the amazing things that our local library system does, and so I encourage students to take advantage of it. Don’t be afraid to tap into the resource that’s there. And then also if you see something that’s not there, advocate for it. We only know what we know. So, as somebody that’s running, I would love to hear more from college students about how the library can better suit them.

TMD: Why should students vote for you?

CH: I’m a younger progressive person. I was just in students’ shoes. I think that beyond just being like ‘Oh, I just graduated.’ One thing I’m really excited to do is to make sure that we’re providing that progressive service, and I think a lot of that involves working with the community that exists there. And that includes bringing people like college students into these spaces, to have more leadership and to have more say because it is a huge chunk of the population that often is overlooked. So I would say if you want somebody that’s going to be responsive, that’s going to focus on community building and really being a voice to the people, then please vote for me.

Daily Contributor Rebecca Lewis can be reached at

Sara Duvall

The Michigan Daily:  What is your name, title and pronouns? What are you running for? Where are you from?

Sara Duvall: Sara Duvall, she/her, running for District Library Board, from Ann Arbor. 

TMD:  Why are you interested in running for this position? 

SD: My interest in the libraries has to do with the future of libraries. I’m recently back from a Fulbright Fellowship in India where I was studying the future of libraries in India and before I went there, I was very active with the American Library Association Center for the future of libraries. I’ve done a lot of workshops all over the world, helping librarians think about the future, what are the trends we need to address. So I’ve been involved with the future of libraries for a very long time. And I thought it might be time to start working with my own district library, to be frank, once I saw that the trustees hired Eli to be the new director. I’ve known Eli for a long time and I know I have a lot of respect for his vision and his ability to lead the library to the future. 

TMD: How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

I had a 20-year career as a school librarian and helped AAPS envision a new plan for technology. I helped them envision a new plan for their school libraries. I have lots of experience with the process of getting to a consensus over a vision. So there is that, plus, before I was a school librarian, I was in business — CEO of a company in Los Angeles — and so I have a really solid understanding of all the financial matters that go along with a big enterprise. So I think my interest in libraries … and my financial expertise, I think all could contribute very nicely to serving on the library board.

TMD: Tell me about your platform. What are the most important points?

SD: We need to look at what the needs of the community are. Particularly with the downtown library — given that the population is just increasing exponentially downtown — the community needs around that downtown library are changing rapidly. The library under Chelsea Parker was very, very good at recognizing the needs of the community as it sprawled. So we have a lot of fabulous branch libraries to meet that need. And I think one of the challenges now will be to adapt that downtown library to meet the new pressures of a large population living downtown.

TMD: Is there anything you want to say to college students?

SD: When I was with AAPS, I was the curator of a program on TEDx. I have to say, before I came in to work with public schools, I was a little bit discouraged about where America was heading. Then I started working with young people, and they completely turned me around. I thought, ‘When these people are in power, I have nothing to worry about when I get old.’ And so what I want to say to college students is vote, no matter what you think of my platform or anyone else’s platform. Become as informed as you can. And don’t blow off voting. Voting is the elemental building block of democracy. And given how imperiled that democracy is these days, every single person needs to do their civic duty and vote.

TMD: Why should students vote for you?

SD: They should vote for me because I’m a consensus builder. I don’t just go out from the top down making decisions without talking to a lot of people. And certainly in Ann Arbor, where the University is such an integral part of the community, we have to consider serious collaboration with the University and with the student organizations so that we make sure that the kinds of programs and the way we spend our money are in line with the needs. So vote for me because first, I respect who they are and where they’re going, and two, because I have a lot of experience with these kinds of things and I’m not out for any one agenda or any one problem. I’m out for the good of the citizens.

Daily Contributor Rebecca Lewis can be reached at

Sherrie Kossoudji

The Michigan Daily: Why are you interested in running for the Library Board?

Sherrie Kossoudji: I was interested in running because libraries have been very important resources in my own life. I’m retired. Before then I was a single mom working full time. I didn’t have a lot of time to give back to the community. But now I do. When I saw that this position was opening, and it fit my interests and skills, I decided that the library, and I would be a good fit.

TMD: How has your previous experience as a professor, and a mom before that, prepared you for this position?

SK: It has in a number of ways. First, as an economist, I’m used to thinking about the use of competing resources. And of course, one of the things the Library Board of Trustees does is work on the budget and approve the budget. In these times, the use of the budget is critical to stepping into the future. In terms of my specific skills, I feel like I’m well qualified to be a member of the board. Almost more important than that, I’m a lifelong user of libraries. When I think about the Ann Arbor District Library, I am a regular user of its resources. I see the library from a user’s perspective. As someone who gets it from that perspective, I hope to then translate that to residents in Ann Arbor, and the fact that I’m a mother who’s taking their kids to the library, and now someone who reads books to very young grandchildren.

TMD: What are the main points of your platform for the Library Board? If elected, what do you hope to accomplish?

SK: It’s a little difficult in some ways to talk about what I hope to accomplish because it is not an individual position. But I do have a set of features that I hope the library will consider for the future. The first one is that it pursues acquisitions, so that patrons’ experiences are equally valuable, whether they use physical resources of the library, the electronic resources of the library or both. This is both an accessibility and a sustainability issue. We don’t want the library to discount the digital needs of young potential patrons in Ann Arbor. Folks in their teens and 20s have grown up in a digital world. In order for them to interact with the library, the library has to become an attractive digital resource. At the same time, we need to attend to what we observe as newly emerging digital disparities and mitigate those problems. We need to consider the ways that electronic resources create access, create biases and learning differences. In a way, the pandemic thrust us into understanding how digital interactions are going to change our whole notion of community. That’s going to be one of the ways that the library is going to have to work on its growth in the future. Libraries are not bifurcated because physical resources and electronic resources are part of the whole. The Ann Arbor Public Library has been very good about expanding into electronic resources, but I’m hoping to see them go further in that direction.

TMD: Is there anything you want to tell college students about why they should vote for you?

SK: I think there are a number of reasons. First, I am running for the Library Board with the intention only of being on the Library Board. I’m not using the Library Board as a springboard to another political position. Secondly, and more importantly, I want to maximize the library’s usefulness to young people because your needs are very different from the needs of someone like me, who grew up with very traditional libraries. Thinking about how the library can be a useful resource for college students, for example, is an important idea for our library to keep building in the future.

Daily News Editor Roni Kane can be reached at