CHESHIRE — The library can be an economic driver and a place for personal connections in an increasingly impersonal world according to the town’s new library director.
Beth Crowley is in her fourth week as head of the Cheshire Public Library. She replaced Ramona Burkey who left for a library director position in Middletown.
“The library is one of those places where I see people coming back every day to connect with other people,” Crowley said. “It’s part of a vibrant, active town.”
After six years in advertising, Crowley said she wanted a job that made her feel she was contributing more than the ad copy she was producing.
“I found it unfulfilling. I was getting a little bored,” she said.
She started as a library page in 1998 while getting her librarian degree. Crowley worked at libraries in Groton and Madison before taking the Cheshire position.
Groton was a municipal library while Madison was run by an association and a board. Crowley said her decision to take the Cheshire job was in part because she missed the support offered by a town through its resources and other department leaders.
While loaning materials will always be the core of the library, Crowley said the community also wants programs and a place to meet or study. Recent renovations at the library were aimed at just that with more meeting rooms and more space for the Friends of the Library.
A meeting space can have economic benefits as well for those visiting or those looking to relocate. Families in search of a house “look at the library and the schools,” Crowley said.
“They really can be an economic driver,” she said. “A lot of people every day come through those doors.”
Town Manager Sean Kimball introduced Crowley at a Town Council meeting earlier this month. Town Council Chairman Rob Oris called the Cheshire library a “shining star” and said he was glad to have Crowley leading it.
Kimball was impressed with Crowley’s experience and her vision for the library. While it’s already a great library, he said Crowley can help it take the next step forward and expand its role in town.
Crowley is listening to an audio version of Celeste Ng’s novel “Little Fires Everywhere” and often enjoys historical fiction such as “Radio Free Vermont” by Bill McKibben about the secession of Vermont from the United States.
Crowley moved from Madison to New Haven. It’s an adjustment from her upbringing in the suburbs but she’s enjoyed the city’s diversity and its walkability.
Crowley doesn’t regret her move from advertising, with its focus on revenue, to the library.
“We measure our success not by how much we take in but how much we give away,” she said.
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