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Article Published June 19, 2019
Bruno Lieto: Always a Book in Hand
Nathan Hughart

Bruno Lieto started working with the Hagaman Memorial Library as a teen volunteer, but he’s stuck around to help run the program on his way to a teaching career.

“Right now, I plan events like movie nights and game nights,” Bruno says. “Other than that, there’s a teen group that meets weekly to talk about community service for the library.”

That’s the same group that Bruno volunteered with when he was younger. He says he’s been involved with the library for most of his life.

“I’ve always been pretty attached to the library,” he says. “I love literature. I always have a book in my hand.”

When Bruno was in elementary school, his mother worked at the library.

“Every day, after school she’d come here and she’d bring us with her. We would leave with stacks and stacks of books,” Bruno says. “I was here pretty much constantly.”

Hagaman hired a teen service librarian around the time Bruno entered high school. That’s when the Hagaman Teen Advisory Group (HTAG) got started and Bruno became one of its first members. Now that the library is looking for a new teen librarian, he’s been hired part time to keep the group running.

“The main reason why I come to this particular library is that I have roots in it,” Bruno says. “A lot of the people I work with now are the same people who worked with my mother…so it’s like a family to me.”

Now, on the other side of the HTAG Bruno is responsible for tracking teens’ hours and planning events for them. Event planning can sometimes be a challenge.

“It’s a mix of doing what the teens will be interested in and doing what’s within reason for the library,” he says.

He likes to give the teens in the group a voice as to what they do next. There’s even a vote for what the next movie night should be. But some of the kids’ ideas are outside of what the library can accomplish.

“A lot of bigger scale ideas…are trickier to plan,” Bruno says.

Still, HTAG has a few big ideas in the works. There will be a teen coffeehouse event on Friday, Aug. 16. That’s an opportunity for teens to come and express themselves in front of their peers with music, poetry, stories they’ve written, and sometimes unstructured rants.

“It’s open to anything that a teen might want to get up and say in front of a group, which I think is really good,” Bruno says.

Back when he was a teenager himself, Bruno even performed at a few of these events.

Bruno and his co-worker will have to come up with decorations for the luau-themed event as well as collect donations from the community in the form of gift cards to local businesses as prizes.

Bruno says the teen coffeehouses tend to be popular events, with the last one attracting 60 or so kids.

“The first one we through only had like 15 people come,” he says. “It’s gotten a lot of traction.”

HTAG is also working on a project about the “living history” of East Haven. It’s a project that the teen group considered a while ago, but fell by the wayside when Bruno went back to school. Now that he’s employed part time, the project is rolling again.

The group wants to interview the older members of the East Haven community about what the town was like in the past.

“[We’re] reaching out to the older generations and we’re asking them what stories do you have about East Haven that you want to tell us?” he says.

They hope to compile the filmed interviews into a DVD that will be made available for checkout at the library.

Anyone interested in contributing a story can contact Bruno at livinghistoryeh@gmail.com to schedule a meeting or send in a written story.

Bruno is a graduate of Clark University with a degree in English. He says he hopes to return to school to become a high school teacher, continuing with the work he’s done with teenagers at the Hagaman Memorial Library.

“I’m really drawn to high school because…I think it’s easier to talk to high schoolers about literature,” he says. “At that point, they’ve developed things they’re passionate about.”

Bruno says he was inspired to pursue a career in education because of the teachers who made an impact on him throughout his life.

“I have the strong belief that if I can help make the difference in one kid’s life, then I’ve done a good job,” he says.

To nominate a Person of the Week, email Nathan Hughart at n.hughart@Zip06.com.