Monday, January 17, 2022

Person of the Week

As New Reference Librarian, Pearson Looks Forward to Poet Laureate Program


Brittany Pearson, the new reference librarian at North Haven Memorial Library, enjoys bringing programming to library patrons, including being a part of the committee seeking a town poet laureate. Photo courtesy of Brittany Pearson

Brittany Pearson, the new reference librarian at North Haven Memorial Library, enjoys bringing programming to library patrons, including being a part of the committee seeking a town poet laureate. (Photo courtesy of Brittany Pearson)

Brittany Pearson first discovered her passion for library science when she was in high school in East Hartford. She was part of the school’s library club and through her involvement, Brittany was invited to attend a national convention in Boston.

“As soon as I got there, I realized it was the career for me,” says Brittany. “I always knew I wanted to help people and as a librarian, we’re in service to the public and able to provide resources to everyone no matter their age or wealth, as well as help them find enjoyment in literature.”

Brittany attended Southern Connecticut State University to study library science before going on to get her master’s degree in information and library science from the University of Pittsburgh. Brittany worked in libraries in Coventry and Hartford before spending five years at Westbrook Public Library. In March 2020, Brittany was hired at North Haven Memorial Library as the reference librarian.

“Westbrook is a pretty small library and I was looking to move into a bigger system and looking for the next step in my career,” says Brittany, who had recently moved to Wallingford with her husband Adam. “After spending four years at Southern, this area was familiar to me. It’s a lovely library that’s a good size for me and I love everyone here. We have a great staff.”

There was one familiar face when Brittany was hired, as Children’s Librarian Emily Jenkins and Brittany had attended Southern together. When Brittany was hired last March, she was beginning to get to know the rest of the staff when the state was shut down due to COVID.

Just two weeks after starting her job, Brittany and the rest of the staff of the library began working from home. As they began to adjust to the guidelines, staff reported to the library on alternating days and held virtual meetings to discuss Zoom programming. The library also implemented new services, such as curbside pickup and make-and-take craft kits for all ages.

“It was definitely an unusual way to begin a job, but it was also a nice way to slowly get to know people in smaller groups, not only the staff, but the dedicated patrons,” says Brittany. “There was a bit of a learning curve with Zoom, but librarians are pretty tech-savvy. Through Zoom, we were able to bring in a lot of interesting presenters we normally wouldn’t have gotten.”

In addition to facilitating Zoom meetings, Brittany works on collection development and management for both the teen and adult departments and manages the reference desk. Since the library began welcoming patrons back at half-capacity nearly a year ago, she has enjoyed getting to help community members with things such as job resources and technology. Now the library is nearly fully reopened.

“Being able to help anyone in the community and hearing their feedback is really fulfilling,” says Brittany. “A library needs people in it—we’re a community center. It was weird when it was just a staff so it’s been nice to see people using the library again.”

In addition to welcoming patrons back, the NHML is also working on new programs, as well as bringing back programs such as book clubs. Brittany is currently getting ready for the fall mystery book club by reading Dark of the Moon by John Sandford.

One of the things Brittany is most excited about is being part of North Haven’s inaugural campaign for a town poet laureate. She was chosen to be part of the North Haven Poet Laureate Committee along side North Haven teacher Christine Chromiak, Southern Connecticut State University Professor Jeffrey Mock, Selectman Sally Buemi, Dr. Donna DiCello, Chris Griffiths, and members from the library board.

According to the NHML website, “The mission of North Haven’s Poet Laureate Program is to communicate the value of poetry and use poetry as a means to engage, educate, and entertain the community at large. The Poet Laureate of the Town of North Haven serves as an ambassador promoting the creation and enjoyment of poetry.”

In order to be considered, applicants must be a North Haven resident and 21 years old or older. The application process is outlined on the website.

The committee will then review the applications and choose the town’s first-ever poet laureate, who will then have a two-year term with a goal of developing programs, promoting reading and writing, public speaking, and representing North Haven in the Connecticut Coalition of Poets Laureate.

“We’re really looking forward to having our inaugural poet laureate,” says Brittany. “We definitely want people to apply. We have a lot of great writers in North Haven and it’s a great way for our community to showcase its talent.”

Brittany herself is not a poet, though she does enjoy reading poetry, particularly traditionalists such as Robert Frost. As a lifelong “book nerd,” Brittany enjoys nearly every genre and enjoys helping connect people with the right book.

“As librarians, we’re exposed to so much,” says Brittany, who also enjoys gaming—both video and tabletop games—with her husband and their friends. “We are constantly reading reviews and staying on top of current trends.”

Much of NHML’s programming is funded by the Friends of the North Haven Library, which is a non-profit, volunteer group that works to support the library. The friends group collects book donations and runs a bookstore in order to help fund programs and hosts other fundraisers.

“Our friends do so much for us and it’s nice to see so many people activity involved in giving back to the community and the community here in North Haven is also so supportive of the library,” says Brittany, who looks forward to returning that support to the community. “We’re here with smiles ready to help people. We have a lot of great things in the pipeline here thanks to [Library Director] Sue [Griffiths] and I’m fully on board for it.”

Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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