BUCKLAND — From the kids’ room filled with toys and picture books to the adult section showcasing the latest fiction, non-fiction, memoir and fantasy titles, library manager Sara Salem is happy to highlight what the Buckland Public Library has to offer.
After taking on the role of library director on April 29, the Northampton resident and Minnesota native is excited about the many programs in store for the upcoming season.
“People are finally coming out of hibernation,” she said, “and I’m thrilled to be here for them.”
Salem first moved to the East Coast for college, studying sculpture at the School of Visual Arts in New York. While she would eventually settle in Fairhaven, Salem fondly recalls the summer she spent in Buckland with her family as a child, during which she met many people who are today library neighbours.
“I knew I liked the culture here, but I was overwhelmed by the quality of the people for me,” Salem said of her first two months as library director.
Because his father was a publisher, Salem grew up with an abundance of books.
“I never understood how expensive books were, so it made me really appreciate the library when I left my dad’s house,” Salem said.
The only place Salem was allowed to go unaccompanied as a child was the library.
“Libraries have always meant independence to me,” she said.
Libraries are so important to Salem that when she was deciding where to start her own family, she took a library test in every city she considered. She visited every town to make sure there was a successful library.
Salem became a circulation manager at the Millicent Library in Fairhaven. Together with 11 other staff, they recommended and organized books, organized programs for the community, and connected residents to social services.
At the Millicent Library, she learned the ins and outs of the trade.
“I learned to keep my cool in tough situations,” Salem added.
During the pandemic, she decided to move to Northampton to be closer to her family and landed the job at Buckland Public Library after being recommended by the board, who interviewed several candidates.
In Buckland, Salem has a variety of initiatives she’s been working on for the summer. She is particularly excited about an internship program she started. Teens can work with Salem to make individualized plans that can involve any amount of work on a library project. Interns can “host game nights, give presentations, or tailor the project to whatever interest they have,” she explained.
“This library is older,” she noted.
One of Buckland Public Library’s most popular activities before the pandemic was Soup Night. Salem is planning a modified version of Soup Night where people bring their own dinner and socialize outside the library on picnic benches.
“We will provide individually wrapped desserts,” Salem said.
As many readers turn to electronic reading of books, the future of libraries is often in question. But Salem said that was not a concern for Buckland.
“People here are really interested in books,” she says.
“Everyone is so proud of this library,” she added, noting that at other libraries, customers often return books with dog-eared pages or other damage. “Here, everything is so well maintained.
The Buckland Public Library at 30 Upper Street is open Tuesdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit bucklandpubliclibrary.org.
Journalist Bella Levavi can be reached at 413-930-4579 or firstname.lastname@example.org.