The Recorder – Salem Public Library’s New Director Retires After 23 Years
NEW SALEM – When Diana Smith took over, the New Salem Public Library was a one-room, computer-based institution across from where it is now. Twenty-three years later, Smith retires and the library is located at 23 South Main St. with five computers and meeting / event space.
“And we need it, because it’s a small town and the library really likes to put in gardening or education programs and things like that,” she said in Space Thursday, her last day of work. The building was originally a two-room school and was then a bookstore until 2006.
A former part-time employee of the Wendell Free Library, Smith noticed the job offer almost two and a half decades ago and applied.
“At the very last minute, I submitted my resume and they hired me,” she recalls. “And I really enjoyed it. It’s just a wonderful job and a wonderful city to work in. The people here are really great. And we did a lot of things.
The town plans to celebrate Smith’s career and retirement with an outdoor event at the Library from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 3.
“I think one of the things the community appreciates the most is that they’ve always had this calm, constant presence and brought it to the library,” said Judith Northup-Bennett, administrator of the New Salem Public Library.
Prior to March 2020 – also the month the COVID-19 pandemic affected virtually every aspect of American life – the city did not have reliable internet access, which meant the library was filled with people doing their jobs. and their homework. Northup-Bennett said Smith “has been at the forefront of all technology updates,” even bringing the Hulu streaming service to the library this summer.
Northup-Bennett said Smith’s contributions have been particularly impressive given that the library manager is paid for a 19-hour work week.
“She’s accomplished a lot, so she’s been a really good manager of her time,” said Northup-Bennett.
Smith said she plans to take some time for herself in retirement. She had wanted to travel, but decided to postpone this until the pandemic was resolved. She recently started taking an online art class with instructor Christine Harrison, her roommate at San Francisco State University.
“It’s… very nice, because we haven’t been in touch for a long time,” Smith said. “I decided to contact her, then found out that she was teaching art classes online.”
Smith, 68, mentioned that she worked in a high school library and worked a few hours a week at the Wendell Free Library before learning about the job offer in New Salem. To become a library manager without a master’s degree in library science, she said, she had to take four courses in five years to get certified.
The California native specialized in clothing and textiles and worked in this industry after graduating. She and her husband Chris Smith moved to Massachusetts decades ago to study macrobiotics with Michio Kushi, who helped popularize in the United States the diet based on Chinese cosmological principles of yin and yang which consists of whole grains and grains supplemented with beans and vegetables. The Smiths, who were also family owned, eventually moved to Wendell.
Northup-Bennett explained that employee Linda Chatfield will serve as interim library director, and administrators are exploring all options and setting up a search committee to find a permanent replacement for Smith.
Contact Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.