Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 24, 2019
Love of books, community fuels new Deer Isle librarian
by Monique Labbe
As a child, Nina Woodward felt at home in a library. When she moved to Deer Isle in 1987, the first thing she did was get a library card at Chase Emerson Memorial Library, a full year and a half before she married her husband.
Now, 32 years later, Woodward finds herself in the director’s seat at the library, running the day-to-day operations ranging from book orders and cataloging to making sure the rugs are freshly vacuumed.
Woodward was recently hired to take over the position from Valerie Messana, who Woodward served under as assistant librarian three years ago. Now an “empty nester,” Woodward said the position has been a good fit for her life.
“I just love the library, and to help it and serve the people of this community feels great,” said Woodward. “The library is an integral part of democracy; it serves as an equalizer for public access. It’s a crucial part of a community.”
As someone who raised her children in the Deer Isle library, she has watched it change and grow over the decades. Physical expansions, additions of books and movies and an increase in technology are things Woodward cites as large changes the library has gone through. She hopes, she said, to continue to build off that and offer the public even more opportunities through the library.
“One thing we’re doing this year is updating all the computers,” she said. “They’ll be faster and more dependable and people will be able to do more on them. The printer will also be new and faster, and we’re looking at laptops for people to use within the library as well.”
While dealing with the day-to-day operations of the library can sometimes feel daunting, the rewards of talking with patrons and seeing their interactions with each other outweigh some of the daily stress, she said.
“One of my favorite things is watching people talk to each other, because these are people who otherwise may not have conversations outside of the library. The fact that this place offers a space to do that, is not only amazing but really important,” said Woodward.
Ultimately, though, her favorite part of the job is the book ordering, something she takes pride in and gets excited about with each order.
“I love that. I love being able to add to the collection and get people excited when they see a new book in the library. It’s like being able to give people presents after each order,” she said.
Woodward said she is eager to continue serving the community, and to provide a place for them to come read, research, or simply browse.
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity. I love this library and I love this island. I hope to be able to meet the needs of both through my work here,” she said.