Local librarians feel the love – Patrons share why they admire various Cape bibliophiles (December 29, 2019 | Cape Cod Times)

Inspired by the American Library Association’s annual “I Love My Librarian Award” – and the fact that there were no winners from Cape Cod, or even Massachusetts – we decided to have our own shoutout for local librarians

We asked readers to email the Cape Cod Times about their favorite librarian and why he or she was tops in their card catalogue.

Despite the busy holidays, we received more than a dozen nominations plus packages of kudos from students in three Falmouth classrooms telling the stories of three school librarians.

Unfortunately, we do not have a $5,000 stipend like the one the American Library Association awards each of its 10 winners, but there is something to be said for being publicly praised by patrons and neighbors.

Meet some Cape librarians whose work touches lives each day:

I nominate Deborah DeJonker Berry of the Eastham Library. To say she is tireless is an understatement. She gives equal weight to projects large and small. She always gets back to you with an answer. I volunteer at the library and have viewed her work ethic firsthand. I have seen her stop in mid-stride to patiently answer a patron’s question, taking all the time needed, even though she has 30 hours of work in front of her.

She is knowledgeable, engaged, friendly, and approachable. She’s a real team player. Whenever anyone compliments her on getting something done, she always gives the group credit. “I have such a great collection of volunteers.” Well, she is the one who makes us want to be there. Her enthusiasm is contagious. – Sheila Garry

Mine is Antonia Stephens at the Cotuit Library.

She’s warm, open-minded, caring and funny. Always available to research a request, find an obscure interest, and committed to the community. She has done so much for Cotuit. – Betsy Siggins

Mary Bianco, the children’s librarian at the Hyannis Public Library, is my favorite librarian because she is so caring to every child who comes to the wonderfully diverse environment of our library’s children’s section. When my daughters were little, (They are now 40.) I used to take them to the library to pick out their books and hang out for a bit.

Both of my girls were originally Spanish-speaking (I adopted them) so I wanted to make sure that they had books that kept up their Hispanic culture. Mary has always made sure that our children’s section is full of diversified books, videos, etc. Programs are presented that enrich and incorporate our diverse backgrounds in Hyannis. Many programs are coordinated with the Zion Union Heritage Museum and Hyannis West and the Barnstable Innovative School.

But more than the books, the Family Learning center for non-English speaking families, the multi-cultural programs offered at the library, it is Mary herself who brings so many families to the library. She welcomes each and every child by name. The parents, grandparents, guardians are made to feel welcomed as well. It is amazing to watch her quiet unassuming magic with so many families. I have seen the proud smiles of non-English speaking parents as their children get their first library cards (and get to pick out a new book) at Mary’s desk. It is a joy. Mary continually brings joy to our Hyannis community from her desk as the Children’s Librarian at the Hyannis Public Library (where I now take my grandchildren.) – Irene Aylmer

Executive director of the Osterville Village Library Cyndy Cotton works 7 days a week. Osterville is the only library on Cape Cod that is open 7 days a week and Cyndy is there each and every day. In addition she has worked creatively to retain a staff that is as cheerful and well met as they are knowledgeable, a welcome change from the “be quiet please” library tradition of old.

Creative innovation is Cyndy’s strong suit. Having both the vision and courage to apply the changing shape of available media materials to the centuries-old “borrow a book” principle, she has created an institution that rivals the type of resource center found on the campus of a 4-year college.

In addition to a carefully maintained catalog of over 38,000 books, Cyndy has introduced virtual reality and 3D printing programs just to name a few on the forefront of technology. What’s more, the Osterville Village Library is one of only 5 institutions nationwide to host what is called “The Human Library.” The Human Library is a program originating in Denmark where people are “checked out” as books to share stories in an effort to dispel prejudice and discrimination.

Beyond the generous offer of time to the community, the lively staff and courage to put forth creative programming, it’s the heart found in this library that makes it the heart of the community. From homeless patrons to well heeled donors who reside in Oyster Harbors, the Osterville Village Library is a common denominator that stands by its credo: “libraries open doors, open minds, open lives” – Gregg Jensen, circulation & patron servi ce library staff and a library patron

My family loves the children’s librarian at the Osterville Village Library. Jan Hamm is a kind person who cares about children of all ages. My kids, ages four and two, are always happy to see her and she is always happy to spend time reading to them or providing them with a very cool activity which she is happy to sit and do with them. Many of the activities in her room are STEM-based and it’s helping my son to develop an interest in science. We feel very lucky that we can go to Jan’s room at the Osterville Library and I feel that she truly is the best and our favorite librarian. – Megan Cote

Our librarian, Nancy Symington, encourages community spirit in many ways at Dennis Memorial Library. The book lovers, computer users, the lonely, etc. are all welcome and appreciate the friendliness of Nancy and her staff. She offers many services at the library and is very accommodating. She has developed and presents many programs for area school children. On her days off she delivers books to and visits with homebound patrons. Her outgoing, knowledgeable, and caring personality makes our library a place where patrons and visitors alike, frequent. – Maryann and Louis Daniele, library volunteers

I read about the Favorite Librarian recognition in last week’s Cape Cod Times. I would like to recognize Nancy Symington, from the Dennis Memorial Library, for recognition as a Favorite Librarian. I have volunteered at DML for 15 years and one of the reasons I have stayed so long, and will continue to volunteer, is Nancy. She recognizes the importance of her volunteers and lets patrons know that without the volunteers the library couldn’t run. Under Nancy’s tutelage, the library has expanded it’s offerings to the Dennis community. From the children’s corner, STEM workshops, cultural presentations, band practices, poetry workshops and community meetings, she supports gatherings of all kinds.

Library materials are constantly updated with the latest publications, many of which are requested by patrons. The Little Library by the Sea locations have been wildly successful the last two summers. Hundreds of books have been ‘recycled’ to beach goers who appreciate having something to read while soaking up the rays.

The Dennis Memorial Library is known as ‘the Friendly Library’ and the reason it is so friendly can be attributed directly to Nancy Symington. I am very grateful and happy to call Nancy a friend. She certainly deserves this recognition. – Kathryn Flett

We patronize the South Yarmouth Library in Bass River and we love it. The librarians are all excellent. They are prompt, polite, and excellent at what they do. Thank you for doing this as they don’t get enough credit for the wonderful work they do. – Elaine Brennan

In addition to these nominations, Falmouth public schools’ students penned dozens of letters about their school librarians and why they like them. The Cape Cod Times will share some of those letters in an upcoming feature about school librarians.