Ten Minutes With Karen Ronald
Fairfield’s Town Librarian
Photos by Kristin Burke
Karen Ronald has been town librarian since February 2010. A native of Canada, Ronald now makes her home in Fairfield and spends the majority of her time running the library, managing staff, and working with her terrific team to create innovative programming. For selecting the much-anticipated One Book, One Town title each year, she joins forces with a committee of librarians and community members who meet weekly for
several months, bring books to the group, and debate the merits of each and what it might bring to the community.
How’s it going?
Very well. I believe the team of the library board, Friends board, and library staff have developed a vibrant, innovative, and responsive 21st-century library for our 21st community.
How is programming growing?
Last year we hosted over 42,000 people in our programs. We are continuously listening to patrons’ ideas, the community at large, and researching what we can offer that will enhance learning and creativity.
What’s the worst job that you ever had? I worked for Canada Farm Labor Pool for a summer in college, removing cow dung from barns.
Tell us something that most people wouldn’t know about you.
I ran one marathon about 15 years ago—under four hours’ time and am thinking about doing it again.
What’s the worst piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Don’t go and work at this new company called Google.
What’s the best?
Follow your passion and work hard and things will work out.
If you had all the money in the world for FPL programming, what would you do?
I would love a bigger space for programming. More seating capacity for about 200 to 400 people. I would also like to make the main-floor space more flexible so we could open it up for various performances. We would need shelving and furniture to be on wheels. Many libraries are doing that now. I would also like to have the ability to invite world-class experts to share their knowledge of the world in person right here in our community so we learn firsthand from them.
I read that you were in politics before in your native Canada. Would you ever return to it?
Yes, I worked as a constituency assistant for a member of parliament and then a cabinet minister. It was a great experience when I was studying politics, very young, and optimistic. I’ll leave that last part open.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
What is the must unusual program offered at the library?
We are constantly introducing new programs. We have had someone Skype to a class of Chinese students in Shanghai while teaching kids in the library how to speak Chinese. We have Fandoms for Teens, where kids get together and explore popular culture every week. Our sewing and crafting studios are popular.
What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
On the water, far, far away, learning about a new place and its peoples.