5 Questions with Carolyn Reznick, director, Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
This is an occasional series that introduces influential and interesting people in North Salem.
How did you come to call North Salem your home?
I am not from North Salem although after working here I feel part of the community. I was born in Missouri, raised in Baltimore, and attended college and graduate school in Ohio and at the University of Wisconsin. I have a doctorate in European history and taught for ten years at Concordia University and John Abbott College in Montreal. I changed careers after my husband and I moved to Chappaqua, where we currently live. I went to library school at Columbia and worked for a while at the Chappaqua Library before I came to North Salem in January 2008.
What is your role here in town?
I am the director of the Ruth Keeler Memorial Library – a job I love.
What should people understand about the work that you do?
Public libraries have changed radically. Their primary purpose was as repositories of books for learning and advancement. Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography, “…libraries have improved the general Conversation of Americans, made the common Tradesmen and Farmers as intelligent as most Gentlemen from other Countries…”
Libraries are far more now. I feel strongly that our mandate is to serve the community. We open our doors to everyone, have worked with the North Salem schools and most every community group in town, and welcome all input and ideas.
Can you share a funny story from your time in this position?
Library school does not prepare you for being the director of a small library. I never took a course on what to do when the sink overflows, soaking the carpet, or when the sump pumps fail and the basement fills up with water as it did with Hurricane Irene. The water came up to the fifth step on the bulkhead stairs and took out part of our AC system. Or when Westchester County Health Department tested our water and declared it undrinkable because of chloroform and E.coli. For the last, I got a construction grant from New York State and with the help of Warren Lucas and the town, installed a large chlorination system in the basement. We have the best water in North Salem and parts of our basement look like the torpedo room of a submarine. I could not have dealt with any of these crises without the help of our wonderful trustees.
What do you feel makes our town so special?
I drove out to North Salem in 2007 before my job interview to see what the town was like. I couldn’t find it. Where, I thought, are the Starbucks, the nail salons, and the real estate agents? I have found, however, that this is a tightly-knit, welcoming community with many volunteers and organizations. I have gotten to know many people, staff, volunteers, trustees, Friends of the library, town officials and those who attend our programs and offer to help. I have felt welcomed and treasure these connections.