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New commissioners named to the Iowa Commission of Libraries

Governor Branstad appoints Dale Vandehaar and Betsy Thompson to four year terms

Iowa Library Services/State Library is pleased to announce that Governor Terry Branstad has appointed Dale VandeHaar and Betsy Thompson to the Iowa Commission of Libraries. They replace Monica Gohlinghorst and Jann Freed whose terms expired April 30, 2013. The governor also reappointed Pat Laas. Dan Boice has become chair of the Commission.

Laas is serving a second term on the Commission which ends April 30, 2017. Laas lives in Bettendorf and is a clinical dietitian with Genesis Health Systems.  She serves on the Bettendorf Public Library Board of Trustees and is on the Bettendorf Life Fitness Centers Advisory Board. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary of the Woods College, IN. While at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, Lass earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s Degree in business administration.

Boice is the college librarian at Divine Word College in Epworth. He was originally appointed to the commission by Governor Vilsack in 2006. He was appointed to a second term which expires April 30, 2015. A native of West Michigan, Boice has Master’s Degrees in history and library science, both from the University of Michigan. Before coming to Iowa, Boice held positions at Northern Illinois University and the University of South Carolina. Boice served for many years on the board of the James Kennedy Public Library in Dyersville, including a term as president. He is the chair of the Iowa Library Association’s (ILA) Strategic Planning Committee and has served the ILA in many other positions.

VandeHaar has been Des Moines Public Schools District Library Coordinator for the past 13 years.  He has also been a high school and middle school teacher-librarian and taught English at Southeast Polk High School for 18 years. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in art, English and history, and two Master’s Degrees – one in library science, and one in education, curriculum and instruction. He also has a Ph.D. in education. He was president of ILA in 2010 and 2011, and was president of the Iowa Association of School Librarians. VandeHaar is the present chair of the University of Iowa’s School of Library & Information Science Advisory Panel, and the Grand View University Library Advisory Panel. His term on the Iowa Commission of Libraries will run through April 30, 2017.

“Since entering the library profession in 1992 after teaching high school English for 18 years, I have come to believe that our public libraries are our most important state asset,” said VandeHaar.  Libraries of all sizes and types provide citizens access to necessary information to help to educate Iowans and give them the opportunity to be informed voters and participants in our state, local and national elections. As a commissioner, I promise to do my best to ensure thoughtful and purposeful decisions are made which enhance library services to our state’s citizens, no matter the size of their libraries.”

Betsy Thompson is director of the Sioux City Public Library, a position she has held since 1995.  Thompson began her library career as a student, working in the library archives at Iowa State University where she earned her Bachelor's Degree in sociology.  After earning a Master's Degree in library science from the University of Iowa, Thompson returned to Ames where she worked as adult services librarian then assistant director at the Ames Public Library.  She worked for a library cooperative in Rochester, Minnesota for two years, returning to Iowa in 1981 where she served in various positions at the Sioux City Public Library.  Thompson is passionate about reading and learning and embedding the library in the community as a partner in lifelong education. She is committed to, and really enjoys the strategic planning needed for the library to be an excellent community service.  She has been involved with community projects from coordinating the Rotary exchange student program to chairing the Information Booth Committee when RAGBRAI last began the ride in Sioux City.   Currently she is working on Sioux City's Blue Zones initiative for a healthier Iowa.  Thompson says she is having fun reading to and playing with her two young grandchildren to help develop those oh-so-important literacy skills. Her term on the commission will run through April 30, 2017.

Said Thompson, “Three specific library initiatives in which I would bring expertise to the commission are early childhood literacy, so every Iowa child has learned to read by grade three, bridging the digital divide so that all Iowans have access to technology and digital literacy initiatives, and reading for enrichment so that, as brain research of the past two decades shows, all Iowans broaden their perspective, are more empathetic, manage stress, and have healthy happy brains because they read.”

These appointments complete the transition into the new makeup of the Commission, which was changed by  reorganization legislation in 2012. The Iowa Commission of Libraries consists of one member appointed by the Supreme Court, the director of the Department of Education (or the director’s designee), and the following seven members who serve four-year terms.

Two members shall be employed in the state as public librarians.
One member shall be a public library trustee.
One member shall be employed as an academic librarian.
One member shall be employed as a librarian by a school district or area education agency.
Two members shall be selected at large.


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Annette Wetteland last modified May 14, 2013 11:36 AM