Through the Reading Glasses – December and January

Library Director retires, new one hired

By Janet Moore

Priscilla Poulin has been the Andover Library director for 16 years, having taken over when Tay Clark retired. In that time, she has been the cheerful and welcoming face greeting patrons, the model for learning new technology at any age, and the enthusiastic purveyor of books. “Oh, you liked that series? Try this one.” “Isn’t James Patterson such a marvelous author? Well, have you read Stuart Woods?” “You’d like some picture books about animals? Go find Pete the Cat and Elephant and Piggie.”

For 16 years, Priscilla and her crew of volunteers from family, scouting and the community have organized and set up the Fourth of July book sale. That doesn’t count the hours spent in the library basement, unboxing and categorizing donated books. By the time July rolls around, the boxes are filled to overflowing, labeled and ready to go.

Around that time of summer, the libraries have started their summer reading programs; sometimes it’s a week long camp, (great grandsons Bentley and Colby attended) but most often it was a summer’s worth of activities and reading. The highlights included a veterinary wellness check, followed by a sniffer dog demonstration, both in the library, visits to the bank and physical therapy office and Naughty Nellie’s – yum. Summer programs often concluded with field trips, such as the ones to Squam Lake Natural Science Center and the Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne State Park. There was also a homemade rocket launch, but not in the library – phew. Fairy house construction has drawn children to the library grounds, especially with Priscilla’s magic box of building materials.

Priscilla put up with a group of trustees determined to move things around one year, but of course nothing was done without her approval and helpful suggestions. Could we move the YA collection just off the work station for more privacy? Oh sure. How about reversing the furniture in the reading room for more space? Yes, and while you’re at it, could you remove a magazine rack – no one is reading them anymore. Then there was the entry hall makeover; Priscilla put up with several weeks of rearrangement there! Dust flew as we emptied the shelves and consigned contents to the town archives or elsewhere. Doug and Alita Phelps painted the backs of the now open spaces, and Priscilla suggested an ongoing book sale which is what greets visitors today.

Yes, Priscilla participated in the great changeover from the card catalog to an online search website, and learned the technology to facilitate the system, and the cataloging of accomplishments goes on. She has been the face of the Andover Library for many years, and we wish her a happy and joyful retirement.

Now, by sheer happenstance, granddaughter Michaela Hoover has become the new director. After four years of working in the Barton College Library teaching sign language classes,  tutoring Chinese children online in English, and volunteering and substituting right here in Andover, she comes to us well-prepared. She remembers going to story hour at the Bachelder Library from EAVPS and taking out the same bear book so consistently that when it was weeded, former director Mary Sell gave it to Priscilla for Michaela. She, too, was part of the great changeover the summer of 6th grade and assisted her grandmother in the move to LibraryWorld. Then, in high school, she ran the summer reading program for the younger children. Please stop by and welcome her back to Andover for the trustees are certainly delighted to have her running the Andover Library.

Speaking of trustees, Alita Phelps resigned this year due to a conflicting schedule, so the search was on for a new trustee midterm. Fortunately, retired librarian and former teacher Julie Matz just moved into town and, wouldn’t you know, she expressed an interest in participating in library activities. Aha, we snapped her up before another community group could, the Select Board approved our choice, and she has become our new trustee. Julie became a school librarian so she could reach more people and foster a real sense of community. For her, a library is a place of sanctuary as well as a place to find books and get questions answered. We hope this new position provides her with the opportunities to assist in governing the library programs and maintaining the continuing good relationship in this small town of enthusiastic readers and information seekers with its wonderful libraries and staff.