BETHEL — On Halloween, Bethel Library’s new director, Kelcy Boles, of Bethel, will be on Broad Street handing out candy to tricksters. “I’ll be wearing my own clothes, but I’ll also have a crystal ball, tarot cards and big reading glasses. My frizzy hair helps too,” said the Harry Potter fan who will dress as Professor Trelawney from the popular series. Of course, she will also be handing out books.
Starting the Harry Potter series as a second year student is what first attracted Boles to the world of books and libraries. His mother read him the first chapter of the first book. Boles continued to read the books over and over again. Years later, on a trip through Ireland, where his family lived, Boles read the latest book to his mother, who had also become a fan and was driving. “It was a full circle moment,” she said.
The 31-year-old has taken off. Starting just over a month ago on September 19, Boles listed his many plans, some already in place. She will write a column in the Bethel Citizen with the help of patrons and volunteers. In November, she will offer a “take and make” craft using weeded magazines that participants will reuse and return as collages or scrapbooks. Some will be displayed at the library.
She spoke to Kate Webb of Bethel Arts and Music about the possibility of turning part of the first-floor wall space into an art gallery. Another idea is to create a community quilt with the help of library administrator Donna Gillis, perhaps tying it to Martin Luther King Day. Says Boles, “There is a history of quilts being used to mark the Underground Railroad and sanctuary spaces. I think the library is a sanctuary space. I think that would be a good way to announce that this is who we are now.
“I think this library is small to serve a vibrant community, which Bethel really is…hopefully in the future there may be room to expand this space,” Boles said. . In the meantime, she looks forward to partnering with the historical society and other companies to borrow their programming space.
Boles received his undergraduate degree in law and philosophy from University College Dublin. His MA in Publishing is from Kingston Upon Thames in the UK. Her family moved from Salem, Massachusetts to Ireland when she was 10; her father is Irish. Before coming to Bethel, she lived in Hawaii for five years, where she gained much of her library experience by volunteering at Hilo, a state-run library, and at bookstores. There were only two main libraries on either side of his Hawaiian island. Boles was drawn to this part of the world in part because quaint libraries are everywhere.
“I’ve always loved books, it’s been a great love of my life.” Author, Margaret Atwood is one of her favorite authors: “I love her commentary on women, especially. Some of her literature can appear both feminist and dystopian. When you look at the world that we live in and carry on in a particular way, to see what she thinks the world will look like if we carry on as we are, I think that’s very interesting. Boles is also a follower of magical realism.
Boles expressed his gratitude for volunteers like Jessica Jolley, of Bethel, who helps update barcodes for a new system called Polaris that requires touching every 10 to 13,000 books in the catalog.
The library sells books in the Book Shed, just behind the library. It is open during library hours and is honor-based, although you can enter the library if you need change. Boles works with Better World Books, a company that will donate 15% of the proceeds to the library for any books it sends to them. They will give away what does not sell.
Another of Boles’ first projects at the library will be to transform a disorganized room on the second level into a community space. “I don’t think it’s going to be inclusive or exclusive of anyone. Just what the community deems good for the space,” Boles said. A group of Telstar High School volunteers will begin the renovation Nov. 8, led by Lyndsey Smith, Boles’ roommate at Bethel.
As you exit the library, a shelf on the right contains several books that have been banned from other libraries. The sign reads ‘We read forbidden books’. When asked if she expected pushback, Boles replied, “I think this community is welcoming and I hope I’m right.”
Time management is his biggest challenge. “I have a wealth of ideas…I want to accomplish most of the things I have ideas for. I’ve had people say, we’ve lived here for five years and we’ve never set foot in the library. I want to change that. I hope everyone who lives here will want to come here and feel welcome here.
Halloween Details: Bethel Library will partner with nearby historical museums, accepting trick-or-treaters from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Citizen welcomes Lincoln to staff