Library Board of Trustees
The power of libraries
Your hometown library trustees are all dedicated public servants entrusted with bringing you the best local library that you will ever call your own. The short profiles that follow reveal how reading and libraries shaped each of these trustees into the person they are today!
Here’s a few tidbits about the library board to draw your interest:
They hail from across town and across the country.
They’re teachers, retired teachers—even a corporate organizational expert.
They’re voracious readers of every possible genre that you could imagine.
At home, the shelves of their personal libraries are filled with classics like Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Bible, the ever-popular Oprah’s Book Club selections, autobiographical accounts like Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, and human tales like The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom, and futuristic sci-fi gems like The Expanse by James S. A. Corey.
To put it simply, your library trustees are intent on the pursuit of knowledge for everyone and the preservation of your Library for future generations!
Dr. Noaquia “Nikki” Callahan Banks – Libraries: Doorway to Education
Growing up in Long Beach, Callahan Banks says that the local library was one of the few community spaces her mother would allow her to go to with her friends unaccompanied. “I enjoyed reading biographies, mysteries, and checking out foreign language practice tapes. At the library, I learned how to use the Internet and study for the SAT’s. It was at the library that I discovered that I am capable of finding the answers to questions—about anything.”
Libraries played a key role in cultivating her intellectual curiosity about the world and America’s past and were critical to her childhood education and decision to become a historian. Callahan Banks attended California State University, Long Beach where she earned dual BA degrees in Sociology and German. After that, she went to the University of Iowa where she was awarded her MA and Ph.D. degrees in History.
Libraries: Heartbeat of a Community
“For me, the library is the intellectual heartbeat of a community because it was created to serve everyone—regardless of socioeconomic background, gender, race, or disability.” Now a tenure-track Assistant Professor of History at Victor Valley College, Dr. Callahan Banks teaches courses in African American History, Women’s History, 20th Century U.S. History, and modern German History.
Nikki and her husband, Dennis, are new residents of Beaumont. She says, “We look forward to starting our family here, and getting involved in activities that will keep Beaumont safe and welcoming for all.” Her term expires in 2022.
Dr. Noaquia "Nikki" Callahan Banks, Trustee
Cynthia Carr - “Library Geek” with a purpose
At nine years old, Cynthia Carr headed down to the library from her home on First Street in a tradition that goes back more than a hundred years to the opening of the Beaumont Library. In small towns, kids walk to the library.
“I grew up in this Library,” Carr says. “It was the place to be.”
The 48-year-old library trustee still remembers climbing a steep flight of stairs outside of the building to reach the Children’s Library on the second floor.
“You would go through those double doors and enter a world just for children,” Carr says.
As a fourth grader, she won second place in a book report contest during the Summer Reading Program.
Preserving the Library
Carr’s paternal grandparents settled in Beaumont during the 1930s, and she has taught elementary school in town for nearly two decades. When school is out, Carr visits public libraries across the country and around the globe in her self-described role as a “library geek.” From her travels so far, Carr is left with an overriding impression about her beloved hometown Library.
“I see so many more things that we could offer if we had a bigger building,” she says.
As she reflects back on childhood memories of the Library, Carr knows exactly why she chose public service. She was first appointed to the Library Board in 2014. Her current term expires in 2022.
“I think we’re called to serve. I want to preserve this Library for future generations.”
Cynthia Carr, President
Margaret Coleman - The path to becoming a Library trustee
Even before starting kindergarten, Margaret Coleman realized that libraries represented freedom and access to the outside world, a chance to experience life outside of the usual perimeters. At five and a half years old, she had her own library card growing up in Claremont.
Fifteen years ago, Coleman rescued a local library in Culver City. She encouraged 600 students at her elementary school to write handwritten letters to then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. As a result, the library remained open five-days-a-week and no librarians lost their jobs.
For Coleman, it’s been a long journey that finally ended with her appointment in 2017 to the board as president for the Beaumont Library District. Her term expires in 2022.
Expanding the Library for future generations
About a year and a half ago, Coleman retired as an elementary school teacher in Culver City and moved to Cherry Valley.
Coleman first got interested in the Beaumont Library after seeing Children’s Librarian Nell Secor reading to youngsters in Oak Glen. The children were enjoying an outdoor storytime program called Step Outside And Read (SOAR.) It’s a cooperative effort by the Library and the Wildlands Conservancy at Los Rios Rancho.
At 61, Coleman dreams of expanding the Library to make room for a larger collection and to create separate areas for elementary students, teenagers and adults. A homework center could be another valuable addition, she says.
“My job as a public servant is to give everyone a reason to come to the Library and discover something new.”
Margaret Coleman, Trustee
Michelle Lillard-Geiser - Books Can Take You Anywhere!
Growing up just a block away from the Library, Michelle Lillard-Geiser was taught to read more than 40 years ago by her mother who only had a ninth grade education. Michelle developed a love for reading and says, "Beaumont Library and reading were a huge part of my life as a kid." She could often be found at the Library where she checked out books, did research, and participated in library activities as she made her way through school and graduated from Beaumont High.
Making her community proud
Lillard-Geiser went on to earn her B.S. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Loma Linda University, and has been a Beaumont USD elementary teacher for nearly 25 years. In the meantime, she has raised a family and passed on her love of books to her four children and four grandchildren. She says, "I tell my kids constantly that books can take you places you may never go, however in this case books took me to a place I never thought I’d be!"
Michelle is “incredibly thankful” to have become a Trustee and to "have been given this opportunity to give back" to the community. "I hope to make the Board proud!“ Michelle's board term will expire in 2022.
Michelle Lillard-Geiser, Trustee
Bret Mahoney - Next door neighbors with the Library
Bret Mahoney stays close to his hometown library. As a trustee, he lives just a block from the Beaumont Library and can walk to board meetings.
“For a community, the library is the center of activity, knowledge and growth,” he says.
For Mahoney, serving the Library is a family affair. His wife Diana was appointed to the board of the Friends of the Library. Mahoney is Secretary of the Library Board and his term expires in 2024.
Right down the street
When he walks down California Avenue and checks out a book, Mahoney is reminded of a simple truth:
“A library is not a product that someone can sell you; you’re getting access to the world and a window to opportunity,” Mahoney says. “A library is a need.”
Mahoney is finishing his master’s degree in organizational leadership while working at Loma Linda University Health. Mahoney, 33, grew up in a family where his school teacher mom helped him read at high school level by the fourth grade. On cross-country road trips, he whiled away the time by reading library books.
When it comes to his hometown library, Mahoney hopes to see public support for tripling the size of the Library, expanding its collection by 150,000 items, adding more computer stations and new community meeting rooms.
“As citizens, it’s our responsibility to contribute to society and improve people’s lives just like the Library has for so many decades.”
Bret Mahoney, Secretary