Ten Minutes With Karen Danvers
The Wilton Library program director
Karen Danvers' official title at the Wilton Library is program director but she should really be called "program wizard." Last year, Danvers organized 225 programs--including authors, musicians, artists, experts, and even llamas--with over 12,000 attendees, arguably making the library our town's cultural mecca. Danvers, a Boston native whose family moved a lot, graduated with a degree in modern languages and is currently working toward completion of a masters in library and information science.
Modern languages huh?
A degree that I never use. Who knew travelling wasn’t a career path?
How long have you been in Wilton?
I’ve been married to Dave for 20 years and we have three children: Andrew, 18, who is at the University of South Carolina; Erik, 17; and Alison, 15. After a brief stint in Orinda, California, we settled in South Wilton in 2003.
What’s the biggest challenge of your job?
Anticipating. Everything. A no-show speaker, odd last-minute requests, a technical glitch, not enough seats for the audience, or too many empty seats—so much is unpredictable.
Describe a job highlight.
It’s amazing to connect the person on the book or CD cover to our community. I get compliments on the great speakers we host, and then the speakers compliment me on our great audiences. I have nothing to do with either, except making the connection, which is extremely satisfying.
Of all the celebrated individuals you’ve booked, who surprised you?
Art Garfunkel. He embraced the library. He had an enthusiastic crowd for four sold-out nights as he was growing comfortable with performing in public again. He calls me his training wheels. Now I’m a groupie.
What impediments do you face?
Snow. It’s always the snow. Or the rain. Or traffic. If the speaker or performer is a no-show or late. But I’m not going to jinx myself by talking about it anymore.
Name three of the most successful programs you’ve helped organize.
Ann Patchett’s May 2012 visit was my first solo program, and it was wonderful. Also, Cheryl Strayed’s visit and my personal favorite, Nelson DeMille. And Patricia Cornwell. And Mary Higgins Clark. Also working on the Hot & Cool Jazz Series with Chris & Tish Brubeck. So many!
Who’s on your wish list for future programs?
Book Expo in New York is a great place to meet the publishers and authors to get an idea of what new books are coming out in the next year. I’m also still holding out hope for Rob Lowe.
Nelson DeMille, Erik Larson, Anita Diamant, Wally Lamb, and Ann Patchett.
When you’re not working, what’s your guilty pleasure?
Sleeping in. And binge watching whatever TV shows I’ve fallen behind on—currently “Breaking Bad” and “The Blacklist.” I also read quite a bit.
What’s your personal philosophy? Plan, plan, plan, and then expect surprises, both good and bad.