Judy Kleven was working in the library at the Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School when a teacher, by chance, mentioned that the Elizabeth Taber Library was looking for a head librarian.
“I didn’t see the advertisement in the paper, but after my friend told me about the opening I applied and here I am after 23 years,” said Kleven, who will retire on June 1.
Kleven’s calling was evident in her youth. While her sister was outside jumping on a pogo stick, Kleven was usually inside reading. Her parents never discouraged her from her love of books. Kleven said she knew at the age of 19 that she wanted to become a librarian after working part-time in college at the library. She graduated from Columbia University with a Masters’ degree in library science.
“I’ve totally enjoyed my career … not many people can say that,” said Kleven. “We’ve made a big effort to know our customers by name, who are friends, and see them on a regular basis … it’s a steady stream of the town readers. That’s our community.”
Looking back over the years, Kleven said that technology was and is the dynamic element in the libraries of the United States and the world.
“Our library was a country library when I came here and now we belong to a consortium of libraries which provide access to books that Marion residents would never have had access to … Fairhaven specializes in art books, New Bedford on whaling history. Any resident can have special books arrive here for them to read and enjoy,” said Kleven. The current network, SAILS, Inc., includes approximately sixty libraries from Marion to Wrentham.
Marion patrons suggest titles and Kleven would cater to local tastes in books.
“Marion residents check out non-fiction books on gardening, old home repair, boating and maritime history. Fiction checkouts tend toward biographies, mysteries and best sellers,” Kleven said.
In discussing technology, Kleven held up a Kindle electronic book repository and pointed to the entire reference section.
“This small device holds the same amount of data that is here in these two stacks of books,” said Kleven.
Kleven believes that children should start out with real books, especially classics with beautiful illustrations.
“These books have a flavor and texture of their own and it would be a shame if there were a generation that didn’t have that experience,” said Kleven.
Kleven plans to keep busy taking courses offered by Harvard University online, reading to home-bound adults, singing in church, traveling and, possibly, entering politics.
“My interests are psychology, theology, Bible study, history and English fiction,” said Kleven. “I read two hours a day … [I] like practicing the piano daily,” she added.
Patrons coming and going at the library are wishing Kleven well and hope to see her there as a patron in the future.
“I love books and will definitely be visiting often in the future,” said Kleven.
By Joan Hartnett-Barry