Children’s Librarian Retires After 30 Years of Service
A celebration for Janet took place on Wednesday December 27th from 11AM to 3PM. (school vacation week) Children stopped by to congratulate and say goodbye to Ms. Janet. There was cake, face painting and balloon artistry.
Click here to read the Newport Daily News Article about Janet.
Tiverton librarian to start a new chapter
Newport Daily News Article
There are some things Children’s Librarian Janet Linhares just had to do to show how brave she was at summer reading program celebrations, such as eat a wok-fried cricket and let a boa constrictor dangle from around her neck.
“You just have to do it quick,” she said of eating the cricket as part of a “Don’t Bug Me, I’m Reading” themed celebration.
“The life of a children’s librarian involves so many things,” she said, and many memorable moments.
After 30 years of story times, summer reading programs, grant writing and book purchases, Linhares said it is time to retire. The end of her career at Tiverton Librarian Services will be celebrated at a public event in the library next Wednesday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. where there will be cake, face painting and balloon animals. A late afternoon pajama party, beginning at 5:30 p.m., will include a free movie.
Linhares said she wanted the celebration to be more about the children.
“I wanted to celebrate all the children that use this library; that is the best way I can go out,” she said. “And maybe they’ll find a book they’d like to take home with them.”
She will miss the children the most when she retires.
“I’ll never forget the year I asked the children at Christmas what they wanted and one little girl wanted to get her Dad a library card. That’s something that will stick with me forever,” Linhares said.
She’ll also never forget visiting the elementary schools to talk to the children about the summer reading program one year. Sitting in a chair in a kindergarten or first grade classroom, she said one little girl sat at her knee and rubbed the cloth of her skirt between her fingers the entire time. When Linhares stood up at the end of the visit, she looked down and saw that the girl had unbuttoned her skirt all the way up to her thigh without her knowing. She quickly buttoned it up and moved on to another room.
Her goal always has been to get children to become lifelong readers, and also to be comfortable speaking in public. That’s why her story times nearly always involved some discussion at the end so children could share their ideas with an adult and learn how to effectively communicate.
There have been challenges in that respect, especially when children, typically at the age of 6, have many teeth missing and it’s hard to try to understand what they’re saying, Linhares said.
“The child is missing a tooth” or two or three “and asking for something. You’re asking for this?” Linhares would reply trying to understand “and they’d say no,” and it would go on another round or two. “Those are the hardest years to figure out as a librarian,” she said.
And sometimes they’ll tell half a story. She remembers one “telling time.”
“One boy said, ‘my Mom stays in bed all day,’” Linhares remembers the boy telling everyone. “Come to find out his Mom worked all night as a nurse. You never know what they’re going to come out with.”
She liked to have discussions about the books they read, and fondly recalls one of her favorite books, “Fat Santa” who gets stuck in the chimney. The children came up with their own ideas to get him out including “throw black pepper up there” so he’ll sneeze himself out, and “tie a rope to his toe” and pull.
Going with the flow is always the best way to go.
During one story time a boy started singing “Who Let the Dogs Out, woof, woof,” even though the story wasn’t about a dog, and within a short time everyone was singing, including “Miss Janet.”
“In that age group anything is possible,” she says laughing.
Linhares had three different story times; for eight months to 18 months; toddlers; and 3 to 5 year olds.
“This library,” she said pointing to a play area for very young children, “was designed for play with purpose,” with a goal of “getting board books in their hands as early as we can. I will be leaving part of myself in this room,” Linhares said of the multitude of meetings she attended during the planning stages of the new library and seeing her ideas brought to fruition by the architects.
“The best moment of my career was when we had the opening of this library,” Linhares said of the new library on Roosevelt Way that can accommodate so many more people, and programs, than the old Essex Library on Highland Road that had a limit of 13 children in the children’s room.
The activity room in the rear of the children’s room at the new library can seat 50, not counting the numbers that can be on the other side of the wall looking through the collection, playing or using computers.
“It’s been a good job,” Linhares said. “I’ve been able to dress in primary colors” nearly every day for 30 years, “and get down on the floor and play.”
And having such a wonderful staff to work with over the years has made the time fly by.
“It was my childhood dream to work in a library,” Linhares said. “When you’re doing what you love, that’s so important. It makes the years go by fast, at high speed.
“What got me through 30 years? Unending patience, understanding, and lots and lots of chocolate,” she said, pulling open a drawer in her desk where she has always stashed Hershey’s kisses. At her last staff meeting Thursday, Linhares gave the staff members bags of chocolate.
Looking out the window of her office at the adult section of the library and shelves filled with so many books she has not read, she said she looks forward to being a patron.