(previously published in the NWC Newsletter, January, 2014)
Whatever your connection to the Norwich Public Library—borrowing books and DVDs, coming in to read the New York Times, attending a program on getting the garden ready for spring, or delivering your three-year-old to story hour, as you walk through the library door on Hazen Street, you’re likely to glance toward the main desk with a quick “Hi, Lucinda!”
Lucinda Walker, Director of the Norwich Public Library for over 10 years, is almost a Norwich icon, and the fact that she is simply “Lucinda” says a lot about her perspective on herself and on the library. She is well-known, much admired, and a woman whom Norwich residents know they can count on. And of course, she is an active member of our Norwich Women’s Club. I recently spent an informative hour with her in her office at the library.
We started with some background. When the NPL Board of Trustees interviewed Lucinda to be the new library director in 2002, they were after a candidate able to move into a newly renovated library building and make maximum use of a remarkable three-year Freeman Foundation Grant (the application was written by former librarian Sylvia Fraser, before her unexpected death) aimed to help this strong but small institution change and grow. Board members wanted a director who would enlarge the staff, offer more programs, and build the library bases of users and supporters. Lucinda, upon starting work on June 15, 2002, says she walked into her ideal job.
And how did she make the connection to Norwich? “By accident,” she says! Lucinda, a Vermonter by birth, went to Oberlin College in Ohio, where her now husband, Peter Money, was a classmate. Being a history and communications major, she had no thought of becoming a librarian. Her post-college years included working in Akron, OH, as a retail store manager for the May Company; moving to New York with Peter, who was attending graduate school, and taking a job at the Wall Street Transcript, where she began doing reference work and loving it; deciding, with her mother’s encouragement, to return to school for a degree in Library Science; and then accompanying Peter to CA, where they lived for 10 years.
During her years in San Francisco, Lucida worked at the Mechanics’ Institute Library, a historic membership library and cultural center in the heart of the Financial District. In 2001 Lucinda and Peter decided to each take a year’s personal sabbatical from work, having recently had their two children and wanting to return to the East Coast to be closer to their families. Settling near Windsor, where she had grown up, Lucinda claims that it took a mere seven weeks before she was ready to look for a job! Briefly, she and Peter, who also has a MLS Degree, shared a position at the Hartland Library, until Lucinda applied for the Norwich Library directorship and was hired.
To say that Lucinda is proud of her staff is an understatement. “We didn’t set out to be a community center, but we are one,” she says, “along with the Post Office, the school, and Dan and Whit’s.” The staff “gets it,” according to Lucinda, meaning that there is an understanding among them of a shared library culture. They know patrons by name, try to learn about their preferences and their needs, and want to know their children. “I am lucky to work with them all,” she concludes. Of course it is Lucinda’s vision, her wisdom, her experience, and her willingness to take risks that help make all these aspects of the library into realities.
While she is busy full time at the library and does take work home, Lucinda also has other lives. In settling back in VT after their California years, Peter and Lucinda and their children, Hartley, 15, and Lily, 12, bought a home in Brownsville, which for her is “the country,” by contrast to Norwich. “It’s where I go to relax—to walk, ski, read, do things with the family.” Peter, a poet and teacher, has a more flexible schedule these days and so absorbs more of the responsibility for the needs of the kids.
And, though it’s almost part of her job right now, Lucinda currently devotes significant time to her year-long membership in the “Leadership Institute of the Upper Valley,” where she meets monthly with thirty other members of the VT/NH work-force to discuss issues relevant to our area, such as economic development, health and human services, and justice, a topic coming up for their next meeting that will take them to the Spring Valley Correctional Facility as part of the experience. “It’s a ‘contacts and opportunities network,’ giving me eight hours a month to leave my to-do list back in the library,” Lucinda says.
But what’s your bet: that the Norwich Public Library—and the Norwich community in general—will reap some of the benefits of these days outside the library? Knowing Lucinda, I’d put money on it. Our town is fortunate to have a librarian like Lucinda, and the Norwich Women’s Club is delighted to count her among their members.
*Editor’s note—Based on NWC’s recent selection of Lucinda Walker as the Norwich Citizen of the Year, we’ve opted to pull this month’s profile from our archives. What better way to add a few details to those already known about Lucinda, and to say again that she is an outstanding choice for this annual award by the Women’s Club!