Madame Librarian, Maria Lagonia

For the past eighteen years, Rye library-goers have depended on Maria Lagonia for reference assistance, just as four directors (Jean Read, Betty Teoman, Kurt Hadeler, and Kitty Little) have relied on her management skills, patience, and steady hand.

A3 MARIA LAGONIA
Published May 24, 2013 5:00 AM
3 min read

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A3 MARIA LAGONIAFor the past eighteen years, Rye library-goers have depended on Maria Lagonia for reference assistance, just as four directors (Jean Read, Betty Teoman, Kurt Hadeler, and Kitty Little) have relied on her management skills, patience, and steady hand.

 

By Robin Jovanovich

 

A3 MARIA LAGONIAFor the past eighteen years, Rye library-goers have depended on Maria Lagonia for reference assistance, just as four directors (Jean Read, Betty Teoman, Kurt Hadeler, and Kitty Little) have relied on her management skills, patience, and steady hand.

 

“I go where I’m needed,” said Lagonia. “We try to be all things to all people, so I move around a lot.”

 

While Lagonia has seen and is excited about all the technological changes since she earned her degree in Library Science, she points out that the Rye library still has a large clientele who want a quiet place to read and hardcover books to borrow. Eighty percent of the individuals who go to the Reference Desk ask for assistance identifying and reserving books. But a growing number of patrons are more interested in wireless access, the latest hit music on CDs. “At a recent Facebook class, we had sixteen people but only twelve computers,” she said.

 

Since February, Lagonia has been Acting Director, and she said she toyed with the idea of applying for the top job, but after some reflection decided she was happy as Managing Librarian. “I love working with the staff and the community and I didn’t want to have to give up my ‘other life’ on the board of a non-profit historical society in Gainesville, Georgia.”

 

She added, “As Director, you get pulled away from books. I’ve only read one book — “Finn,” a modern retelling of Huckleberry Finn — so far this year!” Lagonia, an avid reader, has a Master’s degree in Humanities. She went to law school for three days, but that’s a story for another day.

 

The first week in June, the Rye Free Reading Room will welcome a new director, 30-year-old Chris Schumacher, who comes here from the New York Public Library system. “We’re all so excited. The board invited the staff to meet the final four candidates and we gave them our input. We all liked being part of the process this time.”

 

Lagonia will remain in charge of Reference, but she’s also hard at work on the library’s centennial celebration, which starts this fall. “I’ve been researching the building’s history, reading the old minutes, looking at the original blueprints from 1911.” The library plans to mount a show of old photographs, with help from the Rye Historical Society.

 

What she looks forward to is the start of the Summer Reading Game and more creative programs like the one-woman Willa Cather reading the library recently hosted. While she’s happy to report the library’s five-year plan is in the final review stage, she’s equally happy to report that one of the new director’s tasks is to put it into action. She hopes to be spending a little more time reading for pleasure.

 

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