Friday, June 27, 2003
Library's social aspects intrigue new director
With a prime location, comfortable seating, and convenient hours, the Gleason Public Library has emerged as the social center of Carlisle. That suits the library's new director, Angela Reddin, just fine.
"The people, the staff, the trustees, the Friends and the kids it's a very friendly and charming community," says Reddin. "It's a community with individuals in it that seem always to be searching for knowledge, and exploring new horizons. The breadth of information that people want really attracted me."
Although she has never held a library director position before, Reddin has enjoyed and worked in libraries all her life. "As I was growing up, I loved to read," she says of her childhood in Redding, California, a town north of Sacramento. "Well, I was an athlete, too, but when I wasn't out playing, I was reading. We didn't even have a television when I was growing up, so that was my imagination world."
In middle school she volunteered at the library in the children's department. In college she worked in the library circulation department at the University of California in Santa Cruz.
"It was one of the most social environments," Reddin recalls. "I loved it because I got to see everybody that came into the library: my professors, other staff and all the students." When not attending classes, studying, or in the library, she competed for the volleyball team. During the summers, the student-athlete served as a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service. In 1994, she earned her bachelor's degree in history and comparative literature, but it was her experiences in the university library and influence of its director that brought Reddin to consider a career in information management.
Open to input and new ideas
Reddin came to the Boston area nine years ago to undertake graduate work at Simmons College. She obtained masters' degrees in library and information sciences and in history in 1997. She focused on Boston's Broad Street Riot in 1837 for her thesis. During graduate study, she also worked in the college archives.
In the past six years Reddin has put her education to work in a variety of ways: project specialist, and consultant project archivist at the Countway Library, Harvard Medical School; project consultant, and project archivist/museum assistant at the M.I.T Museum; grants manager at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners; state historical records coordinator and Planning Archivist at Massachusetts State Archives, and Sunday reference librarian at the Reading Public Library. She also served as a Communications Manager and directed a staff while working for an Internet company, Active Europe Network Ltd., based in Aix-en-Provence, France. Reddin has studied French extensively, and enjoyed living in France for a year.
Information, government and management experiences led Reddin to adopt a business approach to her new job. She respects and trusts the existing staff to carry on as usual while she takes time to learn about the library and its audiences. She's gathering information about the physical building and facility maintenance. While Reddin has many ideas stemming from her statewide work, she aims to understand staff interests and community needs before she introduces change.
"I want to get to know more of the people," says Reddin of the town's inhabitants. "I'd welcome people coming in and talking to me about what books they don't see that they'd like to seeAny ideas they have for programsmedia they would like to seeWhy not? It's an opportunity, since I'm new, to share that information."
Keeping the library in the foreground
Reddin the athlete still enjoys sports. She runs and cross-country skis. In fact, hiking at Great Brook Farm State Park first brought her to Carlisle. "I had heard of Carlisle when working for the state," says Reddin. "We developed some grant programs. Carlisle received one of those grants right after I left. It was for the Historical Society."
Reddin the reader considers herself a "generalist" when it comes to literature. "I am a fan of pop culture, so I keep pace with what's going on. With the NBA finals recently, I saw a Michael Jordan book, and said, 'Oh, I should read that.' I like business literature and am looking at management literature. Most everything will catch my attention. In terms of actually devouring a book, it'll depend on my mood." She reads The New Yorker and Business 2.0 periodicals.
Reddin has always liked to read young-adult authors. She recently re-read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and found it as compelling as ever. She shows enthusiasm for the new Harry Potter release and the library's event last week to celebrate the debut of J.K. Rowling's new book, The Order of the Phoenix. "Aren't we all secretly excited about Harry Potter coming out?" she asks with a smile. "I read them, I know."
In her few weeks on the job, Reddin has "absolutely" noticed that the library serves as a community center. She's checking out the competition with a visit to Daisy's, and plans to go to Kimball's soon. With the current offerings, community input, and her own ideas, Reddin plans to keep the Gleason Library at the center of the town's activities.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito