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Q & A: Meet Lynnfield’s new library director, Jennifer Inglis

Jennifer Inglis is the new director of the Lynnfield Public Library. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNNFIELD Jennifer Inglis never expected to work in a library. The self-described nerd said she wanted to be a teacher since childhood and taught social studies for three years before switching careers. While spending summers working in a library, the 46-year-old Salem resident discovered that’s where she should be. After getting a masters degree in library and information science at Simmons College in 2003, Inglis launched her new calling. She arrives in Lynnfield as plans are underway to build a $21 million library on a portion of the Reedy Meadow Golf Course. The 25,874-square-foot facility would include meeting and program spaces, a cafe, expanded youth services, and plenty of parking. The new location is less than a mile from the Summer Street location, which was built in 1930. Inglis spoke to Daily Item reporter Thomas Grillo in the library on Thursday.  

Q: You’re coming to Lynnfield as residents consider construction of a new library. Are you feeling overwhelmed yet?

A: No. It was one of the reasons I was excited to apply for this job. At the Boston Public Library, I was part of the central library’s renovation. It will be a lot of work getting residents to support it. That’s just a reality. It will take a few years. In the meantime, I have things to work on, such as getting to know the staff. This team of 25 seems really great. In addition, we have two key positions that need to be filled: assistant director and a youth services librarian.

Q: What’s the biggest difference between being a teacher and being a librarian?

A: I started at a children’s library in Fairhaven. One of the things that stood out to me is you can do things in public libraries that are fun. For example, we can hire a magician, and you don’t have to justify where it fits in the school curriculum. There are lots of valid reasons to have a magician at the library. We have books on magic, we can spark imaginations, teach people about alternative careers, and it’s a way to bring kids in the door. That won’t work at a school. I have more flexibility here.

Q: Why didn’t teaching work out?

A: Some parents were very critical of me. I need to remember that as my daughter enters school. I want to team with her teachers and that was not my experience when I taught.

Q: Can you give me an example?

A: One of my students earned a B and his mom was unhappy. Her son worked really hard for a B and he was very happy with it. But I told her he’s not an A student. She didn’t want to hear it. Teaching is a rewarding career, but it lacks the support needed to be a success.

Q: How does a quaint library like Lynnfield’s enter the new age given the transition from hardcovers to downloadable books?

A: Everyone worried about the decline of print. But last year’s book buying data showed readers love print editions. People are reading. There is not a literacy crisis. Downloadable and actual books coexist in Lynnfield. Streaming is very popular, but so are DVDs.

A: What are you reading?

A: “The Power” by Naomi Alderman, and I just picked up an audiobook, “Revere Beach Boulevard,” by Massachusetts author Roland Merullo.

Editor’s Note: “The Power,” a work of fiction, asks what would happen if the roles of men and women were flipped, so women were the aggressors. “Revere Beach Boulevard” tells the story of a local family that rallies around a son in his 40s with a gambling problem as a long-hidden secret that has touched all their lives is revealed.

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