On Catherine Creedon’s first day of graduate school in library sciences her professor asked the class why each of them were there and why had they chosen this field. Flinging her hands up with the rest of the class, Creedon was not chosen. Rather, a quiet girl sitting near the back of the room was selected, whispering, “Because I like books” – the same answer Creedon would have uttered if she had been called upon.
Her professor was unimpressed, Creedon remembered, knowing that, rather than merely being a reader, a librarian should be an activist who seeks to share the knowledge derived from books with those around him or her.
Now the director of the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) in Sag Harbor, Creedon sees much of herself in Pierson High School senior Kristen Fisher, who was nominated by the library and won the 2009 Nassau and Suffolk County Library associations Bringing Excellence in Service by Teens (BEST) Award. The honor was announced two weeks ago, and in addition to a plaque, the Sag Harbor teen received a $150 award, which she intends to use towards purchasing a laptop for college.
According to Creedon, it was Fisher’s innate understanding of the power of literature that made her the perfect candidate for the nomination.
“Kristen already knows what it took time for me to learn: a love of knowledge is meaningless unless it is shared and used as a tool for improving the world,” said Creedon in her nominating letter.
A volunteer at JJML since 2005, Fisher is also employed at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton and plans on pursuing publishing or library sciences as a student at the State University of New York (SUNY) Geneseo in the fall. This year’s Pierson salutatorian remembers shelving books, DVDs and CDs when she was in middle school, just to pass the time, while her mother Donna Fisher worked the circulation desk at JJML.
“I did whatever I could there,” Fisher said on Tuesday. “I used to go there right after school, so I got used to helping out.”
It was only because of her mother’s employment at JJML that Fisher looked to the Hampton Library for employment when she turned 14, helping at the circulation desk, during story time, and offering support for children’s programming. Fisher said she hopes to keep the job during breaks from college.
The founder of the young adult book club, most recently Fisher led a group that has been editing young adult novels in manuscript form for a Manhattan book agent. According to Creedon, the group has already worked their way through two manuscripts and will begin their third this summer.
“We started that this past January and it was really fun,” said Fisher. “The fact that I got to read something before anyone else did was so cool. I liked editing things – seeing what worked, what didn’t work. I enjoyed just working through it.”
The senior is not your average, “Twilight” obsessed reader, opting instead for classics like Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead,” E.M. Forester’s “A Room With a View” and Edith Wharton’s “Summer.”
Fisher is excited to be Pierson’s salutatorian, but the modest student admits that, like this award, it was unexpected.
“It does feel great,” Fisher said. “I just kind of went through school doing the best I can, but I didn’t expect any of this. I just did the work, and thought I did okay.”
Creedon is less modest about Fisher’s accomplishments.
“She has really brought a lot of kids into this library and made sure programs she was involved with have continued,” said Creedon on Tuesday. “It is not just that she comes up with these ideas, but she really follows through.”
In other JJML news, at the Wednesday, May 20 library meeting, the board discussed the then-upcoming meeting, scheduled for last night, with the Sag Harbor Village planning board, zoning board of appeals and historic preservation and architectural review board. According to Creedon, the meeting was conceived as a way to provide the boards with an informal presentation on the library’s expansion plan.
In the beginning of May, the library board of trustees proposed a nearly $10 million expansion plan of the current building which will need to meet the approval of voters in the Sag Harbor Unified School District on June 29. The referendum will provide monies not only for a 7,000 square-foot expansion on the site of the current Main Street, Sag Harbor library, but will also provide funding for repairs and maintenance of the aging facility.
The project, if approved by voters, will need to go through village review and the May 27 meeting was called to highlight issues the board may need to tackle during that process, including what variances will be required by the village zoning board of appeals.
Creedon will also attend a Sag Harbor School Board meeting in June, as well as meetings with the AARP, the PTA, the PTSA and the Noyac Civic Council in an attempt to educate the community about the library’s plan and goals.
During the May 20 meeting, Creedon also disclosed that she has personally pledged to the board that she will raise $2 million – in addition to the close to $10 million referendum – for the expansion project through donors willing to make large contributions, as well as community members of more modest means willing to donate a commemorative piece of blue stone for a planned pavilion on Jefferson Street or those seeking to name a chair after a loved one.
Creedon has also applied for a number of grants, including economic stimulus monies, she hopes will come through in August.