Thursday, January 27, 2022

Person of the Week

Barks Yes, Shushes No: Westbrook Welcomes New Children’s Librarian

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Tricia Carlin is the new children’s librarian for the Westbrook Public Library, a place she’s already found very welcoming. Photo courtesy of Tricia Carlin

Tricia Carlin is the new children’s librarian for the Westbrook Public Library, a place she’s already found very welcoming. (Photo courtesy of Tricia Carlin)

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Earlier this year Mary Nyman, the longtime children’s librarian at Westbrook Public Library (WPL), retired, leaving a hole in the library community. Tricia Carlin has stepped in to fill the void as the new children’s librarian.

Tricia started her role with WPL in May and so far, things have been off to a smooth start.

“I just really had a good feeling about coming here,” Tricia says.

In particular she touted the physical space of the library, the ambiance, the cleanliness, and of course, the atmosphere.

“Everyone has been so warm and welcoming since I started. It’s been so great,” says Tricia.

As a children’s librarian, Tricia is required to wear several different hats.

“It’s a very multifaceted position,” says Tricia.

Some of the tasks Tricia is responsible for include ordering new books, getting rid of old or unused materials, scheduling programming, and generally encouraging literacy among kids and parents.

“Everything from working with the little, little kids up to parents and working with people to see what they can do to improve literacy,” says Tricia.

One new program that Tricia helped start is called the Books and Barks Program.

“It allows kids to sit and read with a dog for about 15 minutes and not be judged if they stumble over a word or something,” says Tricia.

Another new program, which comes in October, is the toy library. A toy library will allow families to check out toys for a period of time and will feature a range of popular toys.

Tricia says that this project was the brainchild of Nyman who wanted to bring the project to Westbrook along with The Westbrook Foundation and Traveling Toys.

Prior to working at WPL, Tricia worked in the East Lyme Public Library and in the school libraries in East Lyme.

“This is my first official children’s librarian position,” says Tricia, though she notes given her past experience working in the school libraries she’s very familiar with working with kids. “I know the curriculum, too.”

Asked her favorite part of her job, Tricia has a ready answer: “My favorite part of being a children’s librarian is interacting with the kiddos. It really is fun,” she says.

“I’m not that person who thinks you need to be really quiet all the time in a library,” says Tricia, adding that she doesn’t want be the one shushing any children who are just being kids.

As fun as working with the kids is, however, being a children’s librarian isn’t all fun and games.

“The hardest part is there isn’t enough hours in a day to accomplish everything,” says Tricia. “I’d love to spend more time with the kiddos, get materials in get more books in, but there’s a lot of other things I have to spend my time doing.”

Another aspect Tricia likes about WPL is the staff.

“They’ll all help anybody as much as they can!” Tricia says. “My ultimate excitement and the reason I pursued this career is because I love connecting children with a book that they are interested in or that they end up really enjoying. This position is truly my dream job, I can’t think of a reason why I would not want to come to work on any given day.”

It’s not just current staff stepping up to make a difference.

“Mary Nyman has been great. She let me in and has really been great support and made herself available to me for any questions and has been great for everything,” adds Tricia.

Being a librarian wasn’t a path that Tricia always considered going down. In the past Tricia has worked as a digital citizenship teacher where she taught kids Internet safety and tips as well as a long-term substitute teacher. She also once harbored ideas about writing her own book.

“It really didn’t occur to me until my children were in middle school,” says Tricia. “I realize I really liked being around people and books and I always loved reading children’s books first to my nieces and then my own children.”

Once she had the idea, Tricia enrolled in library school, and the rest is history.

Tricia grew up in Eastern Connecticut but now calls East Lyme home. In her spare time, as one would expect, Tricia loves reading. She also enjoys trips to Boston and visiting her family and friends.

“Going to sit on a beach is always a great day, too,” she says.

Tricia says she’s still getting to know the Westbrook community, but so far, she likes what she sees.

“The people I have met have all been very warm and welcoming. It’s also a very pretty town,” says Tricia.


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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