By Jill Larrabee
A new year and a new face at Stonington Public Library! When I accepted the job as the Stonington Public Library director in 2018, I was told that it is the best job in the world. It has lived up to that promise—and more! The library has brought many wonderful people into my life and broadened my experiences in our incredible community. It is with a heavy heart that I step down as the library director. The Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated many changes in everyone’s lives, and I am no longer able to balance the time required to run the library with the demands at home to care for my family. I am not saying goodbye to the library; rather, I am changing hats from director to volunteer.
Thankfully, the library’s search committee found a highly qualified library director, Christopher Ross, to fulfill the mission of the Stonington Public Library. I have had a chance to work with Chris over the past few weeks, and I am impressed with the energy and passion that he brings to the job. I look forward to seeing all he does to continue community connections, plan programs for all ages, and, of course, get books into the hands of readers.
By Christopher Ross
Looking back on the past year, I experienced the same break from the “before times” to life during a pandemic that Covid-19 dictated in everyone’s lives, so when I learned of the director opening at the Stonington Public Library, it offered hope for a brighter outlook in 2021. Spoiler alert: I got the job. I am ready to meet the challenges of managing the library’s services through the pandemic and into the “after times,” and my top priority is to connect with the people of Stonington through whatever means are available to us. The library’s figurative door remains open for book requests, reference questions, printing services, and more, and I greatly anticipate when I can welcome the public back inside the library.
There is no neat way to give my full back story in one column, so I will share a few highlights. I have lived on Isle au Haut for the past three years, where I have gotten used to taking on many different roles, but my work in the island and school libraries has been the most rewarding by far. I have taken equal pleasure in reviewing and cataloging the collections and serving as the winter librarian and the board’s co-chair. Libraries are not unlike gardens for the amount of work that goes into tending them in order to cultivate something for all to appreciate.
Libraries run in my blood. I am hard pressed to think of an earlier memory than walking through our local library’s turnstile hand-in-hand with my mom. She instilled me with an appetite for discovery through reading, and she went on to a 30-year career in New Hampshire public libraries. I shadowed the children’s librarian in my hometown before I was old enough to think of myself an intern. I have been a proud card holder at libraries spanning from rural New England to northeastern China, and I earned a master’s in library and information science from St. John’s University in New York. For me, this opportunity is like setting a kid loose in a candy store.
I majored in Chinese language and literature at Oberlin College, and I have spent nearly a decade in total living, working, and studying in China, where I achieved near fluency in Mandarin Chinese. I am already at work on plans for a Chinese New Year themed story time and craft to welcome in the Year of the Ox. Finally, no introduction would be complete without a mention of my crossword addiction. More accurately, I love wordplay. The New York Times daily crossword puzzle is just the tip of the iceberg, and I can go from zero to geeking out faster than you can say “logophile.” Don’t hesitate to ask me more about my years abroad, crosswords, or anything else that piques your interest.
64 Main Street, or in Einstein’s words, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” See you there.
Please join us on Zoom for a Meet the Director event on Wednesday, January 13 at 6pm. Registration is required to obtain the Zoom invitation. To register, call the library at 367-5926 or email firstname.lastname@example.org