There's a new face in the Lenox Library today. Orion Walker-Hazard, of North Adams, said she's happy to be working in Berkshire County again, this time as the new youth librarian in Lenox.
She most recently served as interim school library and media specialist at the High School of Commerce in Springfield. She has also previously worked as a librarian for St. Joseph Central High School in Pittsfield and Mount Anthony Union Middle School in Bennington, Vt.
On Monday, during a library staff training, Walker-Hazard looked up at the two-story Sedgwick Reading Room. She turned toward Sharon Hawkes, executive director of the Lenox Library, and said, "You know what I think would be really fun? To have kids make paper airplanes and throw them off the balcony to see how far they go."
Walker-Hazard then explained, "There's something special about being a school and youth librarian. There are the books and reading, but you get to do silly things, too."
Being a librarian as well as the mother of two younger sons and the stepmother of a high school senior, Walker-Hazard said she values the art of blending literacy, learning and fun.
She holds a bachelor's degree in information and library services from the University of Maine at Augusta, a master's degree in elementary education from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and is working on her master of library science degree through Clarion University of Pennsylvania.
As part of her studies, she researched and wrote a paper about the promotion and benefits of early literacy among children from birth to age 3. She said she also has an interest in fostering life-long reading habits among middle school students.
"During that sixth-grade transition into middle school, the kids are still young, but their reading interest tends to drop off steeply because reading gets to be not as cool among their peers," she said.
The new librarian said she has some favorite book recommendations for young readers. "I love Sandra Boynton. She has so many wonderful books. I love classics like ‘Sylvester and the Magic Pebble' [by William Steig]. Oh, and Dr. Seuss. He was a linguistic genius. His books are fabulous," she said.
Walker-Hazard said she'd like to continue the projects that her predecessor, Debby Cuthbert, and assistant Cheryl Lennon have worked on. This includes weekly story/activity hours, special theme events and visiting local preschools.
"I'm looking forward to diving in and getting to know the children and their parents. I want to be able to engage with the kids when they come in and get to know what they like," Walker-Hazard said.
Executive Library Director Sharon Hawkes said a selection committee, including Amy Lafave and Brenda Durrin, was formed back in November when Cuthbert announced she'd be moving to California.
"We're really looking forward to Orion forging good relationships with our families. We love her energy and enthusiasm," Hawkes said.