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Librarian believes there's a long shelf life for this institution

By Cindy Atoji Keene

As the director of a small public library, Nathalie Harty gets into the nitty-gritty every day, whether helping patrons download e-books onto a tablet or creating an library wish-list for Amazon. With a staff of six and a building of 4,900 square feet, the Langley-Adams Public Library remains an information hub for Groveland and is busier than ever, said Harty, circulating about 5,000 books, DVDs, music CDs and magazines monthly. Despite sequestration cuts that threaten the library’s funding. Harty has been creative in juggling resources, keeping programs thriving and adding new technology.

A: What are the most popular books currently being checked out or requested at your library?
Q: Books mentioned by Oprah and other media outlets such National Public Radio bring patrons into the library to request those titles. Right now, we can’t keep the novel Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn on the shelf – the wait list for this suspenseful thriller is quite long. Another popular novel is The Good House by Anne Leary, which is set on the North Shore. We have also had to purchase multiple copies of Francona: The Red Sox Years by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy.

Q: What are the most common type of reference questions?
A: It’s a toss up between high schoolers working on their research paper and genealogy questions from adults. I love challenging questions – one patron recently asked for peer-reviewed articles about a certain type of rare bird. It was fun to guide him to our electronic full-text journal database that anyone in Massachusetts can access.

Q: Is the Dewey Decimal System is still relevant?
A: I have mixed feelings about this. Most small and medium public libraries still use this classification system, since it’s a great way for librarians to organize and catalog their collections. But the Dewey Decimal System is not necessarily an easy way for our patrons to easily find what they’re looking for. At our library, the previous director adopted the BISAC (Book Industry Systems Advisory Committee) for the adult nonfiction collection. This is a system that the publishing industry uses for subject headings. It’s more “browser friendly” for patrons.

Q: How did you decide to become a librarian?
A: I didn’t become a bookworm until I was in middle school when I discovered romance novels. Later, my college library inspired me to become a librarian. I was supposed to be studying, but instead wandered around the aisles, amazed at the book and journal collections. After getting my undergraduate degrees and working in the corporate world for a few years, I decided to explore library school. But first I did some volunteering at the Chelmsford Public Library and was immediately hooked. The rest is history.

Q: What are reader's response to controversial books, like Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James?
A: We do carry the Fifty Shades trilogy. I didn't know anything about it until patrons starting coming in asking for it and really talking it up. So I ordered the series in regular print, large print and audio.They are a huge hit and almost never on the shelf. I did read them myself to better understand what all the talk was about. To date we have not had any formal complaints about this series.

Q: There are some reports of books as the favorite carrier of bed bugs. Any at your library?
A: Thankfully, we don't have bedbugs in our books and there have been no reports of any library in the Commonwealth that does have them. I recently attended a very informative webinar about bedugs and what to look for.

Q: What’s one of your all-time favorite books and why?
A: I have many favorites, but I love 19th century novels. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is close to the top. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it – I seem to pick it up every five years or so. Pride and Prejudice has so much between its covers: humor, wit, romance, sarcasm – plus, it’s beautifully written. There is a reason why there are so many film adaptations of this novel, not to mention all the current novelists writing spinoffs.

Q: How many books do you have at home?
A: I actually don’t have many books at home any more. I used to own scores and scores but when I moved from place to place, they got very heavy. I donated most of them and now borrow books from libraries. One caveat: If I borrow the same library book more than twice, I buy a copy for home. Case in point – I need to purchase my own copy of Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle, by Diana Sanfilipo.

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