Brattleboro move 'a dream come true' for new library director
BRATTLEBORO — Starr LaTronica says she's thrilled.
"It's a dream come true to move to Brattleboro," she said. "My husband and I have been vacationing there for about 20 years. We've always had our sights set on Brattleboro."
Starting Jan. 19, LaTronica will take over as Brooks Memorial Library director.
Having talked with some members of the community, LaTronica found the library is held in high esteem. The combination of wanting to move here plus the community's sentiment, she said, was "a librarian's dream come true."
LaTronica leaves her position as librarian, manager, administrator and consultant for the Four County Library System in Vestal, N.Y., on Jan. 15. She served there since 1995 after previously being senior librarian at Berkley Public Library in California.
"I'm going to the very end," LaTronica said. "Because I want to leave everything in good condition and tie up as many loose ends and because I love this community as well."
Responsibilities associated with her new role will be "pretty parallel" to her current job. She advises librarians, consults services in libraries and is "really familiar" with trends, procedures and policies in libraries.
"For the past 20 years I've been really focused on 42 libraries in four counties. As you can imagine, there's a lot of variety in the kinds of libraries I work in and a lot of varieties in those communities," said LaTronica. "I'm really looking forward to focusing on one library in one community and really concentrating my efforts into Brooks Memorial and Brattleboro. I'll be establishing collegial relations in the area and throughout Vermont, I hope."
LaTronica also looks forward to having more interaction with the public. That had a lot to do with her career path.
Librarians were instrumental in finding books that assisted in her growth, she said, and then she realized libraries were all about sharing resources.
It is LaTronica's belief that library patrons should leave a little more enriched after each visit.
"They should be intellectually, culturally, spiritually, philosophy enriched by something they have accessed at the library," she said. "Whether it's a stimulated conversation about a book or article or information important to their lives. The library is about more than just books. There's a lot of information and cultural stimulation by interactions you have there."
Growing up in both rural and urban areas in Iowa, LaTronica said there were "about 120 people and 90 were related to my mother."
"I know how important it was to find books that showed me a bigger world," she said. "There's a lot of comfort in knowing everyone in town but there's a lot of comfort in knowing beyond. I found that in books."
LaTronica said she noticed a broad range of constituents coming through Brooks Memorial during her interview and visit.
"That's the way a library should be," she said. "All ages, all interests. I'm really looking forward to becoming acquainted with all these people."
Her plan involves doing a lot of listening at first. She invites anyone to come have a chat.
"I'm going to spend a lot of time working with the staff so I have a firm understanding of procedures and the vision of the staff because they're really the experts and the same with the board (of trustees) and the town manager but really truly everybody in town," she said. "I want to hear what their aspirations are and ways the library can help with that."
LaTronica hopes to attend a lot of community events, gatherings and meetings so she can meet people and hear community conversations. Those talks, she said, should influence the direction of community agencies.
In noting her gratitude for being able to follow in the footsteps of current library director Jerry Carbone, LaTronica said she was thrilled to be coming to a library with such a strong legacy in the community that has had such a positive impact.
Carbone met with all the candidates but it was the search committee that did the recruitment and selection. Three library trustees, three staff members, Town Manager Peter Elwell and two citizens made up that committee. The board of trustees then recommended her appointment to Elwell.
"Although there were very good candidates involved, I think she was the best fit for Brattleboro," said Carbone, who says he's experiencing a lot of emotions as he prepares for his last day. "I've been here for the better part of my working life so I think it's going to be one of those bittersweet days, ending one chapter of my life and hopefully beginning another one. All sorts of emotions will be there. It's already started."
An open house at the library is scheduled for Friday between 4 and 7 p.m. Carbone's 37 years with the library will be celebrated with music performed by Chris Bakriges and his trio. Light refreshments will be served.
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