Mayor Karen Bass has appointed Kelly Besser (she/her) as the first librarian and archivist to serve on the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) Board of Library Commissioners. Besser, an archivist for UCLA Library Special Collections, will serve on the board for a five-year term. The Board acts as the legal head of the Public Library, which is a department of the City of Los Angeles.
“I am honored to serve on the Board of Library Commissioners and
continue my commitment to ensuring all Angelenos have access to the
services and materials that our city libraries offer,” Besser said,
“Guided by the spirit of longtime L.A. Public Library lover Octavia
Butler, I will work with hope that our libraries will evolve into
everything we dream possible.”
The Library Board has the power to create and enforce rules and regulations observed by LAPL. Their diverse jurisdiction includes the allocation of funds throughout the library system, the determination of hours of operation of the 72 library branches, the maintenance and design of library buildings and the creation of new positions and authorization of new staff. Additionally, the Library Board of Commissioners hears public comments during their bimonthly meetings to address the immediate concerns of community members.
Since joining UCLA Library in 2010, Besser has preserved, arranged, and described countless collections related to Los Angeles history. In addition to her work at UCLA Library, Besser’s dedication to preserving local histories extends to a wide range of institutions including the African American Firefighter Museum, the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tom of Finland Foundation and the Yosemite National Park Service (NPS) Archives. From 2008 to 2023, Besser led The Miracle, a community-based bookmobile that delivered queer literature, records, ephemera, zines, music, and films to Angelenos. Before she worked as an archivist, Besser taught high school within the Los Angeles Unified School District for a decade.
“Besser has demonstrated a strong commitment to engaging with LA’s diverse communities and increasing access to library resources and services throughout her career,” said Jennifer Osorio, director of Library of Special Collections.
Besser received a B.A. in Communication Studies with a specialization in Women’s Studies from UCLA and holds a MLIS with an archival studies specialization from UCLA.