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Get To Know Your Librarian: Head of Youth Services Lindsey Recka

We’re trying something a little different here today at the Topsfield Town Library! We’ve been wanting to do a get-to-know-your-librarian series for quite some time…today, we’re lucky enough to interview the Head of Youth Services, Lindsey Recka. You see her usually in the Children’s Room. Read on as Sean Smith, Head of Adult Services, interviews Lindsey!

Sean Smith: So, Lindsey, what inspired you to become a librarian? 

Lindsey Recka: Well, I actually grew up one town over in Middleton, and when I was in high school I did my senior internship at Masco in the high school library. I thought, “hey, this is really fun!” I really enjoyed getting to have input in the budget, displays and helping people find information. so I thought I can really take this and make it a career! I got my undergraduate degree at UMass Lowell in English and history, then I went on to grad school and got a Master’s in Library and Information science from Simmons University. After that, I took a job at the Topsfield Town Library and I will be here ten years in June. 

SS: Congratulations! Your time at Masco…was that what inspired you to become a librarian? 

LR: I mean, I was a heavy library user as a kid also, so I had a lot of library experience as a patron. But I had not been on the library side of things and once I did… 

SS: You caught the library bug? 

LR: I guess I caught the library bug! 

SS: What was your first library? 

LR: My first library was the Flint Public Library in Middleton. They were very wonderful…my dad traveled a lot so he picked up a lot of books from them to read on planes. They got to know us pretty well. They stopped asking for my card at one point because they knew my last name and could just look me up in the system! 

SS: Why do you love being a librarian? 

LR: Well, the community of Topsfield is really special. It’s a small town and it gives me the opportunity to really get to know our patron base and I thrive off of interactions with people. I love helping people find books and the information that they’re looking for. I love connecting people to a service or a database anything that what they’re looking for…and it’s a position where you always get to learn something new. 

SS: What do you do on a day-to-day basis here at the library? 

LR: It’s never the same, but I get to work, open up the Children’s Room, feed the fish, turn on the computer and all that stuff… 

SS: The fish! The stars, the heart and soul of the Children’s Room! 

LR: The glue that keeps the library together. We love those fish. So I take care of them and feed them their breakfast and I sit down and kind of take stock of what needs to be done. Maybe there’s some shelving. Maybe it’s time to do a book order, which I love doing. 

A lot of times I have the chance to sit and look at the review magazines that I use, decide what books I think would be great to add to the collection. Then the people come in and, you know, then the day changes with every person who walks in the door. 

SS: What’s the wildest experience you’ve had at the library? 

LR: Having to lead 200 people in an impromptu lesson on how to do the Cupid shuffle because your performer is late for a summer reading kick-off! I did theater as a kid, but I don’t love getting up and dancing in front of people. So that was definitely pretty wild for me! 

SS: Where do you see libraries going in the future? 

LR: I think that they’re always changing and evolving, even in the short 10 years that I’ve been here. They’ve really shifted into more community spaces versus, you know, people think of a library as just this big building that has books inside… and it’s so much more. We have people constantly using our study rooms, we have a crafting space, the Library of Things is pretty extensive and I think that is where libraries are going to continue going… 

SS: What made you decide to become a children’s librarian? 

LR:  I am a people person. I love interacting with people, with kids. I feel sorry for the people who don’t get do the silly goofy things that I get to do with kids all the time. We do great story times. I get to crawl around on the floor and play and have fun. It’s it’s just a blast. 

Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida

SS: “Goofy…” I see an excellent segue here. Tell us about one of the unique places you’ve worked before the library. 

LR: Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I discovered that there is a thing called the Disney College program. So, when I had just graduated from UMass Lowell and had a semester between that and when grad school would start I thought hey, what if I went and worked for Disney? I love Disney. I love the psychology of how theme parks work…how one puts them together…all the little fun details that Disney sticks into things that some people don’t notice and will never notice. So I applied for basically what is a paid internship with Disney and I went down and worked six months in merchandising. 

SS: You’re stuck on a desert island. What three books are you bringing with you? 

LR: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. 

SS: What are you reading right now? 

LR: I am currently reading Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix. It’s a comedy horror adult book set in a ripoff of IKEA. It’s hilarious and creepy and Grady Hendrix is one of the best comedy horror writers out there. Excellent, excellent. 

SS: What’s one stereotype of librarians that drives you nuts? 

LR: Oh, that we’re all straight laced and we try to just shush people all the time. 

SS: A quiet library is soulless…especially a children’s room. 

LR: Absolutely, so the idea that you know, I sit there every day and just go shush and you know, try to make everybody be quiet and be mean and adhere to rules. To pigeonhole us as the shushing people, you know, kind of grinds my gears.

SS: What are some of your favorite hobbies? 

LR: Listening to music, traveling, watching hockey and professional wrestling.  

SS: You’re kind of known on staff as being someone with an eclectic musical taste. Here’s a question for you: If you could listen to any album for the first time, what would it be and why? 

Cover of album Wasteland Baby by Hozier

LR: It would be Wasteland Baby by Hozier. It’s an excellent album from front to back. I have listened to it so many times. I know all the words would love to hear it fresh again for the first time. Additionally, I grew up listening to 90s alternative, so I don’t know a world without Green Day or Foo Fighters. And it would be kind of fun to listen to those albums for the first time as an adult. 

SS: What’s one thing you’d like people to know about libraries and librarians? 

LR: That we are both knowledgeable about books and the resources that we offer, and also that we’re trained in how to find information. Neil Gaiman once said that “Google could bring you back a hundred thousand answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” I am a trained professional in information finding. That’s the information science part of my degree! Another thing: If your child says they need the potty, please rush them to the potty. They’re not bluffing.

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