New London library has a new director
New London — Madhu Gupta, the new executive director of the Public Library of New London, admits that she was a little caught off guard when former director Suzanne Maryeski announced in September that she planned to retire.
After some unsuccessful attempts to entice Maryeski to stay on for a bit longer, Gupta applied for the position. It’s a month later, and Gupta is now running things at the library — no small task, considering the dozens of initiatives and programs underway there.
“I’ve always wanted to move up but I did not expect it so soon,” said Gupta, a mother of two from Niantic and the library’s former head of information services.
Gupta’s appointment came after a statewide search and consideration of six qualified candidates for the position.
Gupta, who has been with the library for more than five years, not only knows the system but the challenges that come with operating a library in an urban setting, said Daneen Roth, president of the library’s board of trustees.
Roth said the library needed a competent individual to continue to move the library forward and who also understood the library is the social center of the community in many ways.
“We found that person. She understands,” Roth said of Gupta. “She is a very highly qualified person with the kind of warmth, sincerity, energy and vision we need.”
While she has roots in the corporate world of banking, Gupta is no stranger to libraries.
Gupta left India with her husband to settle in Pennsylvania 19 years ago. She has a master’s degree in business administration and was working at Citibank in India. But once in the U.S., she had to wait several months before she could obtain a work permit. Much of her time during those months was spent at her local library.
After a move to southeastern Connecticut and a decision to make a career change, Gupta became a frequent visitor to the Groton Public Library with her kids. After a chat with a children’s librarian there, Gupta decided to direct her energies into obtaining a master’s degree in library science.
Gupta later worked at both the Groton Public Library and at Charles E. Shain Library at Connecticut College before she started work at the Public Library of New London.
She plans to continue to support and maintain the wealth of programs at the library while reaching out to help form more partnerships and collaborations with local agencies across the city.
“I want to see the library out in the community to see where the needs are. With so many nonprofits in New London, somewhere our missions do merge,” Gupta said.
In just one example, she said the library has partnered with the Arc of New London to offer special programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The library welcomes groups of 20 to 30 people from Arc for biweekly programs.
The library also acts as a warming center in the winter and cooling center in the summer, as well as a feeding center at times. There are many homeless who seek refuge there. And it continues to be a major resource for job seekers — even more so since the Connecticut Department of Labor American Job Center moved from New London to Montville.
“We’re catering to individuals without transportation,” Gupta said, adding that people have come back to the library to say they found a job. “That really is success.”
Gupta said the library had 4,725 job-related questions from visitors over the past year, an all-time high that far surpasses its 3,500 yearly average.
The library is offering a program to aid people, not only in job searches but also in technology, so that they can apply for jobs online.
Gupta said the library also will continue its drive to increase funding to support its programs and is in the midst of an Adopt-A Book initiative.
“We do so much here. We have a really hard working staff and cater to children, teens, adults and adults with disabilities. The Public Library of new London is a community hub,” she said.
On a more personal note, Gupta is an accomplished Kathak dancer, a classical form of dancing in parts of India. She has given performances at the library and at area cultural events.