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Lydia Holland, children’s librarian at Scranton Memorial Library, enjoys the magical thinking Madison’s younger patrons employ. (Photo by Margaret McNellis/The Source | Buy This Photo)
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Lydia Holland joined the Scranton Library staff in November 2017, and worked with then-children’s librarian Jane Ash, who developed and implemented programming for decades. Following Ash’s recent retirement, Lydia has taken the helm, and enjoys the magic of serving Madison’s youngest patrons.
“It was great working with Jane,” Lydia says. “I came in at the end of her career. She knew this town really well.”
Madison is a unique community because during the summer months, the town’s population balloons, according to Lydia.
“It was nice to see what [Ash] had built and what worked…[she] had a lot of really good things going on,” Lydia says.
The transition to taking the helm has been a smooth one for Lydia, though she adds that the library is lonely sometimes without Jane and she is missed. (Read more about Ash in her 2017 Person of the Week profile.)
When she was still a student, Lydia thought her career would take her to a reference desk at a university library.
“I taught reading classes with kids to put myself through school,” she says, and she fell in love with guiding children along their first steps of loving literature.
Along with library studies, she also took classes in early childhood education and children’s literature.
Lydia has been able to put the facets of her education to good use as libraries have shifted. They’re no longer just a place to borrow books—though one can still find books at the library.
Libraries are beginning to fill the role of community center, a hub for robust offerings of programs for all ages. In that arena, Lydia’s favorite program at Scranton Memorial Library is Messy Makers.
This program is based on science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM).
“I started doing it when I got here,” Lydia says. “We’ve been mostly looking to have fun and experiment. The kids are at an age where they have that magical thinking.”
Just because Lydia has found a program she loves to run doesn’t mean she doesn’t value other current programs, like the chess club started by Ash, or story time.
“We’re never going to not do story time,” Lydia says. “But if we had all the money in the world, I’d really love to have more tech programs.”
Lydia would like the library to provide kids the opportunity to learn about robotics and coding, specifically—two fields they’re likely to encounter in their teen and adult lives.
Her hope is that when the renovation of the library is done, there will be space to accommodate Lydia’s hopes for more STEAM-based programming.
“We’re hoping that once the new library opens,” Lydia says, “we will have more wiggle room.”
There’s going to be a room dedicated to children’s programs, which means a more open schedule.
“We’re very excited to have the new space,” Lydia says.
The estimated timeline for the construction on the library puts completion out 1 ½ to 2 years.
“It all worked out for the best,” Lydia says. “We’re happy to have support from the town. We’re excited to up the library experience.”
Until then, Scranton Memorial Library is still open and functional. The temporary location is next to Madison Earth Care at 1250 Durham Road.
“We really like being next to Madison Earth Care,” Lydia says. “We’re hoping to program with them when it’s warmer.”
For now, most of the library’s programs are run out of the North Madison Congregational Church, 1271 Durham Road, right across the street from the library’s temporary home.
“They do their best to find space for us. We’re very thankful,” Lydia says.
The temporary space should see some more programming, too, like the upcoming Leprechaun Party on Saturday, March 16.
Even though the library’s location is temporary, and a portion of its collection is in storage, Lydia says “we can still get books for people, even if from another library.”
Scranton has, for years, been a member of Libraries Online, Inc. (LION), which allows for interlibrary loans with participating libraries in Connecticut, but selections from libraries outside of LION’s system can also be borrowed.
“We do want people to remember we’re here,” Lydia says. “Kids can get a library card in Madison at any age. Even if you have a tiny baby, there are things we offer. We’re here for patron service.”
When Lydia isn’t engaging Madison’s youth with literature and programs like Messy Makers, she loves to read.
“Rowling is my classic go-to” favorite author, she says, especially since she grew up when the Harry Potter books were coming out.
She also likes Brown Girl Dreaming author Jacqueline Woodson, who writes children’s literature, young adult, middle grade, and poetry. Mo Willems, who wrote Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, is another favorite.
“I like funny books,” Lydia says. “They work well for story time and they crack me up; it’s the best of both worlds.”
At home, Lydia is currently reading the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull.
Reading is “usually better than Netflix,” she says.
When she’s not reading, she’s usually hiking or baking.
“I could be a really good contestant on Nailed It!” which airs on Netflix. “My baked goods look messy, but they taste good.”
To nominate a person of the week for Madison or Killingworth, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next sessions of Messy Makers run from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5 and Tuesday, March 12 at the North Madison Congregational Church, 1271 Durham Road, Madison. Registration is encouraged. For ages 5 through 10. For more information, call 203-245-8722 or visit www.scrantonlibrary.org/kids.
The Leprechaun Party for children aged 3 and under (including babies) is on Saturday, March 16 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the library’s temporary location, 1250 Durham Road, Madison. For more information, call 203-245-8722 or visit www.scrantonlibrary.org/kids.
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