North Branford Patch: When you were a child, what did you think of libraries?
Debbie Verrillo: When I was a child, we had one car and my father took it to work, so we didn’t go to the library very often. The library that we had was the school library. Luckily, I went to Melissa Jones School and they had a very nice librarian named Mrs. Bridgman. I was not a very good reader so she made reading come alive for me. Dr. Seuss’s One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish was one of the first books that I read. What we did have back in the '60s was neighborhoods. If somebody got a new book in the neighborhood we would pass it around, whether it was Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew or comic books.
North Branford Patch: How does your childhood experience affect the way you interact with kids?
Verrillo: I’d like to say I was an avid reader when I was little, but reading was a little tougher for me and I didn’t do a lot of reading. My goal is to try to reach those kids who have a hard time or don’t know what they want to read. My goal is to get a book into a child’s hand that they are really going to enjoy.
North Branford Patch: When organizing events at the library, what is important to you?
Verrillo: What I try to do here is incorporate all ages. If you come to baby time and you also have a 3-year-old, they’re welcome to come and join us. If you’re going to the 3-year-old’s story hour and you have an infant, you’re welcome to bring them along. I try to make it more of a family story hour. We always joke that we don’t card the kids at the door.
North Branford Patch: What sort of events does the library offer for children?
Verrillo: On Wednesday mornings we have a Baby Time session, which is birth to 18 months [Patch visited one week to see a presentation ]. We do a Toddler Time session on Tuesday and Friday mornings. We do a story hour session on Wednesday night and Thursday mornings, and that’s for the older kids who are ready to hear a longer picture book and do a craft project [See from a Lunch Bunch Storytime earlier this year]. The reason I try to do a little project with the kids is when they take it home they can generate a conversation about what they did.
North Branford Patch: What programs have you recently put on?
Verrillo: One thing that we did this year that was very successful was through the North Branford Education Foundation and the Rotary Club. We did a Kindergarten All-Star Reader program. We enticed the kindergartens to come in to get their library cards and we gave them book bags. Then we had [check out some photos ], an author from Branford, come in and show us how she makes her books. It was great because they could see the whole process of how books are made, how they get to the library, and how they can check them out.
North Branford Patch: What would you say to someone who has not yet visiting the two libraries, and , in North Branford?
Verrillo: I would say that they’re really missing out. In the children’s department here, we went from 1,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet. There are really nice cozy nooks to grab a book or magazine. There is a special early literacy learning station for younger kids to use with a touch screen. On a rainy day I can’t think of a more fun place to come. Mom and dad can get a cup of coffee upstairs and the kids can look through the books or play in the castle. It’s really family oriented now.
North Branford Patch: What do you like about working in North Branford?
Verrillo: I like that it’s a small community. I grew up in Guilford and it reminded me of North Guilford with the farms. People know each other and help each other.
North Branford Patch: What is one of the biggest misconceptions about librarians?
Verrillo: That they’re not fun and they like to be quiet. That’s not true here. With all of our story hours and singing and dancing, we get pretty loud.
North Branford Patch: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Verrillo: Because I work with such a broad age spectrum, I wish I could split myself and wear more hats. During the winter months, I try to focus on the younger kids, and during the summer, I focus on the K through 8 kids. The biggest challenge is trying to reach all of the different age levels with interesting programs.
North Branford Patch: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Verrillo: The most satisfying part of my job is when I see that spark in a child’s eye when things are starting to click. I like working with children. I like to see that light bulb go off when things start to click with reading and learning.
To be featured in ‘A Day in the Life’ or to suggest someone who should be profiled, send an email to Jim Gangi.