It would be hard to not be enthusiastic about the Granby Library system after spending some time with Amy McCue, its new director. Her pleasant personality bubbles about all things library and informs her passion of working with people.
As a young girl, McCue read her way through the children’s section of her hometown library in Bolton, devouring all the Nancy Drew, Wizard of Oz and Roald Dahl books. Especially fond of fantasy and magic, she remembers A Wrinkle in Time as a favorite. Despite being an avid reader, she didn’t think of library science as a career at that point in her life. Instead, she eventually graduated from Connecticut College with a double major in psychology and sociology and began a career in social work, for she feels truly rewarded helping others. Her job entailed counseling violence avoidance and drug prevention.
As time went on, she found the job weighed heavily on her; experiencing the tragedies of others was just too painful and she left the field. After a stint in a corporate job, she went back to college at Southern Connecticut State University where she got a masters in library information science. She is surprised that it took her 20 years to realize what her six-year-old self knew: that she belonged in a library.
McCue’s first library position was in Windsor, where she became the branch manager in the Wilson section of town. From there, she got a job in the West Hartford system, where she was the head of adult services. Some of the programs she coordinated included a “How-to” festival, in which people adept in various arts and crafts, taught others activities such as cake decorating, playing a musical instrument, fixing electronics and dancing. A program she coordinated in Wilson celebrated the beginning of summer with youth services, the police and fire departments and business owners holding a block party.
These programs are examples of Mc- Cue’s continuing interest in helping others. Her philosophy regarding being a head librarian is that it is not a solo job. It involves working together with the staff to get the best out of everyone. Indeed, the library staff is inspired by McCue’s The Harvest of Field and Stream program was held Oct. 21 at F. H. Cossitt Library. History educator and museum professional Dennis D. Picard gave an engaging presentation of hunting and fishing practices of indigenous peoples and Euro-American settlers in New England. The talk included an 18th century fowling piece and its accoutrements, hand-forged steel traps, animal hide boards and handmade fishing gear. The program was sponsored by Friends of Cossitt Library. Hunting and fishing talk at library energy and enthusiasm. She comes in to work with a smile on her face and an encouraging word for all. Holly Johnson noted that she “has a gift for fostering individual efforts that result in a team win,” and is always looking for ways to improve service despite the confines of the existing budget. In the first two months, she has made little adjustments that have lead to improved efficiencies.
What attracted McCue to the opening in Granby? In addition to liking the character of Granby, the smaller size of the community was a big factor. She likes to make “personal, meaningful connections” with the clientele. She wants to be able to know that a certain new book will appeal to a particular person.
In taking a page from the New York Times Book Review, I asked McCue some of the questions that are posed weekly to the celebrity in the By The Book page. What would we be surprised to find on her night stand? Teen books! She thinks they are richly written, get to the point quickly. What is she reading right now? Less, the 2018 Pulitzer Prize fiction winner by Andrew Sean Greer. Favorite book of all time? The Night Circus—a not well-known fantasy about circus life. What authors would you invite to a dinner party? The young adult authors John Green, Maureen Johnson, Rainbow Rowell and Louise Erdrich, and multi-genre Neil Gaiman.
When she’s not working, McCue drives home to Manchester to take care of her two children, ages 6 and 9, and their cat. She enjoys re-finishing furniture and taking walks in the woods. She also likes to tap dance, which, once you get to know her, seems not at all unusual. It will be interesting to see what this vibrant person has in store for patrons of the Granby Public Libraries.