Hiram Sims, USC Professor of English and founder of The Community Literature Initiative, was appointed Library Board Commissioner of the Los Angeles Public Library system by Mayor Karen Bass on April 19, 2023. This appointment was confirmed by a city council vote last week, and he took his oath of office in the City Clerk’s office last Wednesday at City Hall.
The Library Board Commissioner position lasts for a five-year staggered term, overseeing the 73 branches of the LA Public Library. The Board of Library Commissioners is, by City Charter authority, the legal head of the Library Department and is charged with ensuring the library continues to provide much-needed resources to the people of Los Angeles. Sims remarked, “I'm super excited about this opportunity! I've been a huge fan of the Los Angeles Public Library since I was a child. While I went to high school at Foshay, I used to hang out at the Public Library every day on Vermont and 36th. And to now be Commissioner over the same library system that helped me gain an education is a great honor! I have recently been especially fond of the leadership at Central Library, including John Sabo, the City Librarian, and Jene Brown, who visited my library, The Sims Library of Poetry, not too long ago and shortly after gave me and my staff of a tour of the amazing collection at Central. It will be an honor to work with them, providing real community service to people that need access to books, computers, and librarians.” Additionally, commissioners are to provide equipment, design and develop library buildings, create positions and maintain the integrity of the Los Angeles Public Library.
The Library Commissioning Board also plays a major part in ensuring that the various library branches and patrons receive whatever tools they need to serve citizens of the greater Los Angeles area successfully. The Los Angeles Public Library offers a number of different free public services to citizens of Los Angeles. Hiram knows better than anyone, as he fondly recalls,
“As someone who was born and raised in Los Angeles, I'm honestly very proud of the services that the library has offered to the community for free for my entire life--I had the opportunity to read books and use the computers as a child before we had an actual computer in our home. These resources helped me go to college and get an education in literature, which eventually led me to write my own books, which are part of the Los Angeles Public Library collection. I've had the chance to visit incredible spaces like the Octavia Butler Lab at Central. I've watched people check out laptops that they can take home from the Miriam Matthews Branch. I've had the opportunity to hear live poetry at the Washington Irving Branch for years. I feel like the library is one of the few entities in the city of Los Angeles that really addresses the needs of poor people in this city. It will be an honor to serve the mayor and the city with this appointment!” The passion and enthusiasm with which Sims approaches this position will benefit the citizens and LAPL patrons.
Hiram Sims is a husband, a father, and the owner and founder of the Sims Library of Poetry, the Community Literature Initiative, and the co-founder of the World Stage Press. Hiram was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and is a poet, essayist, and creative writing instructor. He teaches creative writing, essay writing, and literature. Additionally, Hiram has published three books, including Poems of a Young Troubled Mind (2007), Write or Die: An Anthology of Poetry from the Urban Poets Workshop (2008), and PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central (2013) and a creative writing textbook, These Pages Speak (2015). When asked about any particular goal with this appointment, Sims said, “A lot of my work with the Community Literature Initiative centers around helping writers of color to finish and publish books. I feel as though libraries are the true incubators of writers all over this country and all over the world! My goal is to make sure people in the Los Angeles neighborhoods can use the library as a resource to write and publish their own books. The Sims Library of Poetry is populated with books from local Los Angeles writers who often use the library as a performance space to connect with lovers of literature. If my time as a part of the Commissioner board can help more Los Angeles writers publish their own works, I will consider that a great accomplishment.”