Varney Keeping Busy, Settling In At Lane Library

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By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, May 19, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

RAINY DAY READING — Preschoolers visiting the Lane Memorial Library listen intently while Children’s Librarian Marybeth Varney reads aloud during a Wednesday morning Story Time.
[Atlantic News Photo by Liz Premo]

Outside the Lane Memorial Library the weather is gray and somewhat drizzly, a precursor to the eventual heavy rainfall the Seacoast experienced this week.

Inside, a dozen or so students from a local preschool are seated on the floor in the Wheaton Lane Room, waiting in warmth and anticipation of their very own Wednesday morning Story Time.

“Let’s see if you can guess what I’m going to read about today,” says Marybeth Varney, opening a book by author Libba Moore Gray entitled “Is There Room on the Feather Bed?"

Varney, who recently joined the staff as Children’s Librarian, reads Gray’s whimsical rhyme about a farmer, his wife and their barnyard animals — including a visiting skunk — who share a space on a big feather bed when a rain storm drives them all indoors.

“Why, bless your hearts! Such a noise, such a fuss! There’s room on the feather bed for all of us!” reads Varney, holding the book aloft, with Natine Bernard Westcott’s lively, colorful illustrations virtually leaping off the pages.

Varney’s young audience is completely focused on the book in her hands. Nearby, two other stories, “It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles” and “Listen to the Rain,” are waiting to be read — and thus reveal the recurring theme in the day’s Story Time selections.

When the reading is done and the group heads back to their preschool, Varney shares why she applied for the Children’s Librarian position left open with the departure of her popular predecessor, Cynthia Stosse.

“I love being with kids,” she says, adding that when she reads aloud to youngsters, “That little smile is worth it all, definitely.”

Prior to starting at the Lane Library back in March, Varney was the school librarian for grades K-4 at the Opal Myrick Elementary School in East Millinocket, Maine. She and her husband Mark have relocated to the Seacoast area, where some of Varney’s family members currently reside.

Varney has “been very busy” and has “met hundreds of people” since coming on board. “Everyone has been very, very kind,” she says, “very welcoming.”

Varney reveals that she has been settling into her new position using “little, small steps.”

“I’ve been a school librarian for so long; a public library is very different,” she says. “I’ve been transitioning; that transition is very busy and eye-opening as well.”

It’s also been educational, which Varney welcomes wholeheartedly.

“I’m learning,” says Varney. “Everything has been a learning experience. Learning is important no matter what age you are. I want to learn the job first before changing anything.”

Not that she’s in any hurry for initiating a complete Children’s Room overhaul.

“It’s a great program and a great library. It’s a beautiful facility — lots of room, lots of books,” says Varney. “I want to add, not change. I want to add to the mix.”

The praises from her fellow librarians have certainly been adding up.

“We are excited to have her [on staff],” says Lane Memorial Library Director, Catherine Redden. Because Varney roots for both the New England Patriots and the Boston Red Sox, says Redden, “she fits right in with some of my rabid sports fans.” Redden adds that Varney “has a good sense of humor and gets along with everybody” and is “excited about getting to know the kids in Hampton.”

“The kids are very sweet, very accepting,” says Varney. “I’m getting hugs; I need that. They are very, very adorable children.”

“She melts when she gets hugs,” says Library Assistant, Joanne Mulready. “She’s wonderful. She has brought good ideas with her, she has got a lot of get-up-and-go, and she’s wonderful with the kids. She had some big shoes to fill but she’s doing a good job filling them.”

“I like to jump in and be busy. I enjoy hard work,” affirms Varney. “I like to be busy.”

That busy-ness includes getting a change of scenery by working upstairs in the library one night a week or so. Being stationed at the reference desk is fun, Varney says. “I like to find answers. It’s like a treasure hunt to me.”

Speaking of treasure hunts Varney is currently planning for the 2006 Summer Reading Program. This year’s pirates-and-seashore theme will encourage participants to “Treasure Reading.” Stories, crafts, entertainment and other activities will all be on the summer schedule, and sign-ups will begin soon.

Now that Varney is keeping very busy with settling in, she has a special message as well as an invitation for those in the local community.

“I just thank everyone for being so nice and welcoming,” she says. “Stop by with the kids, come in for summer reading. We’ll have fun.”

Come say “hi” to Marybeth Varney during regular hours in the Children’s Room at the Lane Memorial Library, located at 2 Academy Avenue in Hampton, or give her a call at (603) 926-4729.

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