New children's librarian arrives at McCullough Library

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NORTH BENNINGTON — For Katrina Hastings, becoming the children's librarian at John G. McCullough Free Library means getting back to a community she loves.

Hastings, who grew up in North Bennington, has long been a patron of the library and a volunteer there.

"This is our community," she said. "I was really excited to have an opportunity to serve a community that I love, and sort of find a job within North Bennington."

Hastings and her family have built a house in White Creek, New York, but lived in North Bennington for a long time.

"It was hard to leave that," she said. "This just felt like a way to still be in North Bennington, and serve this community. Even though we live over the border, this is still very much our community."

Hastings' first day was July 2 — a busy one, with almost 30 people. She knew many of the patrons, as a volunteer, community member and former assistant teacher at the Village School of North Bennington.

The library plans to host a meet and greet night with Hastings Tuesday, July 9, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the children's room.

"We had a busy first day," Hastings said. "But it was still very manageable. I felt like, okay, I can do this.'"

She had completed training over the course of about two weeks with Nicole Hall, who had been the children's librarian since May 2016.

The job came up with perfect timing, Hastings said, as she was finishing up her time as program director of the Seedlings Program in Bennington. Her last day there is Aug. 8.

After she finishes up her summer commitments, she will be in the library Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 12-5 p.m., Fridays from 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The position was most recently 15 hours a week, rather than Hastings' 25-hour position.

"We moved some hours around," said Jennie Rozycki, library director. "Because it's important to have somebody at the children's desk for the kids, if they're going to trust you, then they've got to see you, often."

As for her goals in the position, Hastings said she has a lot of plans for programming. "Keep up the momentum," she said.

She said she'd love to have an art station in the children's room, with materials available whenever children would want to use them.

"That's kind of one of my goals," she said. "I also really like doing science-related stuff."

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She said she's already gotten programming requests — namely, to further utilize Dot and Dash, two small robots that teach children coding. She's also been asked if the library would have a stuffed animal sleepover.

"That sounds like a lot of fun," she said.

Hastings is a part-time teaching artist for the Vermont Arts Exchange, and also teaches other classes, like acrylic pouring with acrylic paint at Troy Middle School in Troy, New York. Hastings was also an assistant teacher at the Village School of North Bennington for three years.

This is Hastings' first position as a children's librarian. She has volunteered for the library "on and off" for the last five years, including hosting the library's cider press event last fall.

Hastings also instructs summer camps at Lake Paran — this will be her sixth year there.

"We do a little bit of everything there," she said. "I can kind of pull from a lot of different places, from a lot of different things that I've done, and sort of infuse some of that into what I'll do here."

In the hiring process, Rozycki said, she reached out to a number of candidates she thought might be good fits.

"We had more than a few applications that came through," she said.

But Hastings' application was the strongest. Her experience in programming is particularly relevant, as children's programming is a focus for the library, Rozycki said.

"The library is about way more than books," Hastings said. "It's an amazing resource. North Bennington is lucky to have a library."

Hastings is working towards her librarian certification and her master's in education from the University of New England; she has a bachelor's degree in business management.

Hastings' business degree was also attractive, as "you run your library sort of like a small business," Rozycki said.

"This really feels like the best of both worlds," Hastings said. "I get to do the fun stuff, but then some of the really hard stuff that goes along with being a teacher or working in education."

Besides planning programming, she'll also work on budgeting and routine tasks like ordering and checking out books.

"I think I'm just going to have a lot of fun," she said. "It seems like a really fun place to work."

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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