Last month, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles welcomed our new Senior Vice President of Advancement and External Affairs.
Meet Melanie Masters Burzynski – pictured below. Melanie comes to LFLA from UCLA’s External Affairs, and has a diverse background, with prior training as both a costumer and Disney Imagineer before working in advancement.
We asked Melanie to answer a few questions so Library Foundation Members can get to know her better before you’re able to meet her in person:
What is your favorite book?
“A Map of the World” by Jane Hamilton. The relationship between these best friends in the midst of crisis and family tragedy brought me into the book immediately. While it was made into a movie – I have to share that it did not do the book justice.
Why are libraries important to you?
Libraries have been a continuum in my life. I recall days as a child spent in the city library, the school library… and then onto higher education and the college libraries. I think I began to truly appreciate what our library system provides once I had children. We attended for story-time, craft days, summer reading programs, a place to go to find yourself….
Why do you feel libraries are vital for communities?
Libraries are the hub of every community I have lived in. Beyond offering a place of connection, the library is also a place of access for anyone – independent of your demographic or economic situation. I like knowing it is there to offer support for people – no matter what you are going through.
What is the best book you have read during quarantine?
I’m currently reading “The Library Book“ by Susan Orlean, so I can have a better sense of the Los Angeles Public Library. I’m loving it! I’m also making my way through the audiobook “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi during my morning walks with my dog, Schuyler. I’m being transformed through this novel. It’s amazing.
How do you envision the library of the future?
The library of the future… I know the library will continue to evolve technologically. And that is phenomenal – we need this. However, I also hope we don’t evolve to a place where we forget what it is like to hold a book in your hands, to turn the pages and watch the words come to life off the page, to even smell the book and feel a piece of history in your hands!
What is one thing you love about Los Angeles?
Only one thing?!?! Ok, let me see if I can answer that…I love that L.A. represents opportunity. You can do anything here – be anyone here. Just go sit and watch the sunset from Griffith Observatory. The expansive view will show you that there is a whole world out there for you to explore.
What is most exciting to you about working in the Library?
Well, I was looking to working IN the library – but since I began during COVID, I haven’t been able to be “in the office.” When we return, I am looking forward to visiting each branch. I cannot wait to meet the librarians, learn more about the communities we serve in these areas, and how we are making a difference in these families’s/individuals’s lives.
What is your favorite library memory?
My favorite memory is going to the library in my hometown of Maumee, Ohio. It’s funny because in my mind I always thought of it as a Victorian home that was renovated into a library. In going back, I see that it was a brick building built in 1917. But I guess the reason I remember it that way, is that it was “home” to me. We went regularly to the library… and it was such a welcoming place for me as a child.
How has the library helped you (and/ or your family)?
The library has helped my kids explore and figure out who they want to be. It is not just a “resource” but a place where my kids got the next “Harry Potter” book, the first of the “Warrior” cat series, found their first copies of “Captain Underpants” – and just by finding these types of books, they found a new world to explore. My kids went on to be top readers at their elementary schools. And to this day (even in high school), they love opening up a book to find a new world awaiting them!
Audiobooks, e-books, or hard copy only?
Hard copy is my book of choice! I love the feeling of turning the pages and letting the story unfold. I have also come to appreciate audio books – because traffic in Los Angeles is what it is!
What is the first thing you can’t wait to do once we are out of quarantine?
See my friends! Having happy hour via zoom is not the same as in person. I have these incredible friends here who have supported me through so much, and I just want to spend time with them. I also cannot wait to travel again. From camping, to a flight overseas, to driving to San Diego – I just want to see what’s out there and explore!
What has it been like to start as our new VP during quarantine?
I’ll never forget this – as it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. That said, I am so grateful for those I am working alongside, our colleagues at LAPL, and our Board Members. They have been so welcoming and have shared a great foundation for what LFLA is, and how we can continue to work to raise support for the 73 branches of the Los Angeles Public Library system. I’m truly enjoying this position – and am so grateful to work for a cause very close to my heart.
Welcome to the team, Melanie! We are happy to have you on board.