Nicole Monk’s Energy, Enthusiasm Brighten the Library Children’s Room

December 6, 2022
New head children’s librarian Nicole Monk shows kids the pictures in a book she read during a recent story time. Staff photo/Wayne Braverman

When Nicole Monk learned that the Bedford Free Public Library was looking for a new Head of Children’s Services, she knew right away that she wanted to apply. Although she was happy with her work as young adult librarian at the Burlington Public Library, she was ready to move up to a department head position. And she wanted to return to children’s services, her “first love,” she said. The more she researched the Library to get to know it, the more excited she was: “Bedford is a small community, the Library is a busy place with great circulation, and it’s well-loved by the community.” 

Bedford’s good reputation pulled her in.

Now, after three months on the job, Monk is well settled into her position. When she came on board in late August, she stepped into a smooth-functioning children’s room with a number of well-established programs that she has maintained and strengthened. She said she was fortunate that former Children’s Librarian Elaine Garnache agreed to postpone her planned retirement for a month to ensure a smooth transition. (The Library is currently searching for a professional librarian to replace Garnache, but so far has not found a candidate; other area libraries are also experiencing difficulty finding professional staff.)

Speaking with The Citizen recently, Monk’s enthusiasm both for her job and for the community was evident. Bedford is such a welcoming town, she said.  

“I do miss working with a team and I look forward to having that other [full-time] person working with me. The best ideas come from collaboration,” she said.

And she noted that the Library is still basically working to return to normal after Covid. “Remember we didn’t start doing in-person programming until summer,” she said.

Monk is excited to be offering a winter reading program (similar to the long-running summer program) that will start at the end of December. She stressed that even if the kids aren’t yet reading on their own, if they are reading with a parent or an older sibling, that will count. “That’s how we build a reader,” she said. 

She has ideas for additional programs, but some are on hold until the Children’s Room has more coverage with a second Children’s Librarian on staff. 

Who are the popular authors these days? Among the classics, Beatrix Potter is still popular, “but she’s not publishing anymore,” Monk laughed. 

As for what’s popular with younger readers, Monk mentioned the prize-winning author Mo Willems and Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series for the middle grades, and of course, “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is still a hit with younger readers. Mo Willems’ “Elephant and Piggy” book series is the theme of an upcoming party on Wednesday, Dec. 28 from 11 to 11:45 a.m. with crafts and games – an event for all ages. 

New head children’s librarian Nicole Monk shows kids the pictures in a book she read during a
recent story time. Staff photo/Wayne Braverman

Good news for kids, parents, and caregivers: During the vacation week between Christmas and New Year’s, there will be a different program every day in the Children’s Room, starting with a movie showing of Frozen on Tuesday, Dec. 27 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. See the lineup of fun programs at the end of this article.

When asked about the growing heterogeneity of the Bedford community and the number of languages spoken in the Bedford schools, Monk noted that she partners with the Parents Diversity Council to celebrate such events as Diwali and the upcoming Lunar New Year which is observed by Bedford’s Chinese American community. She mentioned that the Children’s Room collection includes books in Mandarin Chinese, Korean, and Spanish and of course, all the resources of the Minuteman Library Network are available to those looking for books in other languages.

What does a Children’s librarian do in her time away from work?  “Well,” Monk, chuckled, “I read, of course,” but then she went on to say that she is a crafter and enjoys doing crochet, embroidery, and scrapbooking. These are skills that she puts to work in some of the many craft programs designed for children, such as the “Do it Yourself” New Year’s Eve Countdown Party Bag on Friday, Dec. 30 from 10:30 to noon. Children from ages four and up are invited to the meeting room to make some simple crafts and put together a New Year’s Eve party bag.

As many Library users do, Monk enjoys audiobooks that she plays to pass the time during her commute from Salem. 

With so many kid-focused activities coming up in the next few weeks, parents and caregivers will have ample opportunity to stop by the Children’s Room and share holiday events with Nicole Monk.

Here’s the vacation week lineup (No Registration Needed):

A picture containing text, water sport, sport, swimming

Description automatically generated
TUESDAY, 12/27
10-11:35 am

Join us for a showing of Disney’s Frozen. Light snacks will be served.
11-11:45 am

Join us for a party celebrating the Elephant & Piggie book series by Mo Willems with crafts & games. All ages welcome.

Description automatically generatedLEGOS, KEVA & BUILDING FUN
10:30-12 noon

Drop into the meeting room to build with Legos, Keva planks and more. Recommended for preschool and up with a caregiver.
A picture containing text

Description automatically generatedDIY NEW YEAR’S EVE COUNTDOWN PARTY BAG
FRIDAY,  12/30
10:30-12 noon

Stop by the meeting room to complete some simple crafts and put together a New Year’s Eve Countdown Party bag. Best for ages 4+.

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