Cos Cob Library Beyond the book
GREENWICH — More and more people are moving online to consume information, but the new branch manager of the Cos Cob Library in Greenwich recognizes that libraries still play a vital role in communities as a place of gathering and learning.
Laura Matthews began her tenure as the new branch manager June 4, taking over from Wendy Silver, who retired earlier this year after serving for 39 years. Matthews, who was previously the information librarian at Greenwich Library, is enjoying getting acclimated to her new library and the broader scope of her new role.
“When I came to this library, I just felt like it had a really good energy. It’s a really community-oriented space, and it just seemed so well-loved by the people of Cos Cob,” she said. “The staff knows everyone’s name that comes in, the children are so eager to share what books they’re reading and find out about new programs.”
Matthews has been with Greenwich Library about five years. She originally went to school for communication disorders and worked for the Connecticut Birth to Three System. Matthews visited families’ homes and worked with children with developmental delays or disabilities, and she would often visit libraries as part of that job.
“I was really drawn to all the community programming that takes place at a library, and I decided to do a career change,” she said.
Appropriately for a librarian, her taste in books is wide-ranging. Matthews enjoys retellings of mythological stories and books inspired by folklore, but she also loves a good psychological thriller or mystery. She says she’s excited to read Madeline Miller’s new book “Circe.” Matthews recently read “One of Us Is Lying” by Karen McManus, a “Breakfast Club”-type murder mystery that she thinks will be popular this summer.
Matthews also served on the committee that created Greenwich Library’s new five-year strategic plan, which calls for integrating more technology at all library branches, among other things. Collections have always been important to patrons, she said, so the library will continue to focus on those as well as offering more digital resources. She’d like to offer more technology classes and assistance, but also expand the library’s function as a place where people can connect with each other.
“Lifelong learning and community connections are really main focal points for us,” Matthews said. With new technologies coming along every day, people are constantly needing to learn new skills.
“There aren’t many places outside of a school setting where you can access free resources to continue your education and lifelong learning,” she said. “In some ways, it looks like libraries will be more relevant than ever.”
People also crave the personal connections that they can make at the library, whether it’s students in online classes finding a space to meet and study in person, or patrons chatting about what they’re reading.
“We have a self-checkout here, but I’d say about 90 percent of the time, patrons come to the desk because they want to talk about books, find out what new books are coming out, and get suggestions,” Matthews said. “It seems like sometimes, although the technology is available, that person-to-person connection is really important too.”
The Greenwich Library is planning a number of programs this month in coordination with the summer reading theme, “Libraries Rock!” These include a visit from New Haven Symphony Orchestra musicians on July 12 for a program called “Creating Musical Readers;” a cartoon-themed activity called “Musical Cartoon Magic” on July 16; and electronic violinist Caryn Lin, who will present “The Science of Sound” on July 21. There will also be a celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s life and music on July 23.
Though there aren’t any plans for major long-term changes at the Cos Cob Library, Matthews said there are a few new features that patrons can expect soon. This fall, the library will offer Mandarin and Japanese Storytimes, in addition to the popular Spanish Storytimes that are currently offered.
There will also be a new Express Collection, consisting of books that can’t be put on hold and will only be loaned out for a week. This will allow patrons to get their hands on brand new titles faster instead of being stuck on a wait list.