New Librarians Help ‘Build Community’ at John Jermain

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John Jermain Memorial Library’s newest librarians are, from left, Arielle Hessler, Rebecca Grabie and Kimberly Parry. Christine Sampson photo

Patrons of John Jermain Memorial Library may have noticed some new faces among the staff in recent weeks — and not only are they fitting into the library’s culture, according to director Catherine Creedon, but they’re already helping to “build community” in Sag Harbor, she said.

Kimberly Parry, a native of Sag Harbor, has joined JJML as the new teen services librarian, and will be responsible for guiding teens’ reading choices, creating programming for them and working with other librarians to support the teens however possible. Two new positions have been created. As “emerging technologies librarian,” Arielle Hessler will be researching and incorporating new tech for the library, digitizing many of the library’s resources, filming programs and running social media. As “local content librarian,” Rebecca Grabie will be taking over where Jessica Frankel left off in taking inventory, managing and making available JJML’s local materials, as well as reaching out to the community to expand the Sag Harbor collection and curating exhibits.

“I feel so lucky,” Ms. Creedon said in an interview. “It’s a particular joy to have been involved in a profession for this many years and see young people coming up in the profession who are so committed to the library’s mission, even thought what they learned is diff from what I learned. The underlying, mission-based activities are still the same.”

Ms. Parry comes to JJML — her “hometown library,” she said — from a previous part-time position in the teen program at the East Hampton Library. After graduating from Kutztown University with a degree in biology, she finished a library science master’s degree from Clarion University earlier this year.

“It’s rare to find a library position close to home,” Ms. Parry said. “It was a perfect, stars-aligning thing.”

Ms. Grabie joins JJML from her previous job as reference librarian for printed collections at the New-York Historical Society, and before that was an adult services librarian at the Connetquot Public Library. In college, she studied mass communications and history, and finished a master’s in library science from the Palmer School at Long Island University two years ago. She said she was attracted to the JJML position because “this job had both special collections and local history.”

“It’s really exciting. History is always happening. It’s happening as we speak,” Ms. Grabie said. “The job description was one I’d never really seen before especially in a public library. There was a lot that was politically and culturally relevant going on. It was a mix of that that brought me here.”

Ms. Hessler comes to JJML after a career as a bookbinder with the Stony Brook University library system. She studied ancient medieval history at Stony Brook and library science at the University of Buffalo and previously worked in the children’s department at the Longwood Public Library. She is also active in the New York Libraries Association.

“I’ve always been really interested in emerging technologies,” she said. “A lot of academic libraries are jumping on it. It’s the cool, new thing. But it’s pretty rare for a public library to have one, and I think it shows a lot of vision.”

The new librarians have already begun to collaborate among themselves and with their colleagues. During a recent presentation on the community landmarking efforts by Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest and Ninevah residents, Ms. Grabie was there taking notes while Ms. Hessler filmed the program.

Ms. Grabie said she wants to make people “excited about history and local history,” which she called a version of state and national history.

Ms. Parry said she hopes to get kids interested in things they don’t already know they like. She said she hopes to relate to the teens because she knows what it’s like to actually be one in Sag Harbor.

“You can throw all these programs out there, but if you’re not getting them to come in there then you’re just wasting resources,” she said. “I’m hoping to do some school visits, tell about programs and also that this is a safe, inclusive space for them. There aren’t a lot of places in Sag Harbor for teens to go after school.”

Ms. Hessler said one of her goals is to engage patrons through social media so that people see the staff as “people who have interests and want to do the same fun things as them.” Referring to the television comedy “Parks & Rec,” she said, “we’re not ‘punk-ass book jockeys.’”

But it wouldn’t be a library if they didn’t share what they like to read. Ms. Grabie likes to read nonfiction, particularly works by authors Jon Ronson and Sarah Valle. Ms. Parry loves dystopian young adult books and science fiction, and highly recommends the book “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” Ms. Hessler is reading a lot of graphic novels lately — particularly for a research project she is doing concerning representation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in graphic novels — and said her “favorite thing of all time” is “Game of Thrones.”

Ms. Creedon likes that they each bring different strengths to JJML.

“We have still a very small staff, only 19 people, including our bookkeeper and our handyman,” she said. “They each bring something that we hadn’t yet added to our mix. They’re each coming in with skills that will make them good at their jobs, but more importantly they will collaborate with the existing staff. The staff here are unsung heroes. It’s an amazing staff.”

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