Real Librarians of Chelmsford

What is the best way to get to know a librarian?  By getting them to dish about books, of course!  Each month, we will introduce you to one of the librarians of Chelmsford Public Library. This month, we spoke our new Assistant Director of Outreach, Lesley Kimball. Lesley is a NH – and library – native. Growing up her parents told her she could check out as many books as she could carry, leading to her use of a little red wagon, multiple tote bags, and a large backpack. She reads widely, trying authors from around the world, memoirs, Man Booker Prize winners, graphic novels, and quirky mysteries. She has a special spot in her heart for speculative fiction, sci-fi, and classic kids’ lit. Her TBR list is daunting, but she’ll never give up! In addition to reading (and talking to others about books), she writes poetry, enjoys embarrassing her teenage daughter, cooking with her husband and taking long walks with friends.

We asked Lesley…

What was your first library? 

My first library was the Kelley Library in Salem, NH. My Mom and I would go every week and I was allowed to check out as many books as I could carry by myself. That library also got me started on my career in librarianship. During my undergraduate years when I was wondering what to do when I grew up, I created an internship there (thanks to one of the kindest, smartest, funniest library directors I have ever know, Ed Reed) to find out what librarians “really” did. I was totally hooked.

What books are on your nightstand right now?

Giving Up the Ghost by Hilary Mantel, She Was Like That by Kate Walbert, and A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine. On Libby I’m listening to The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish. I’m a pretty fast reader so those titles will change soon.

Which book do you love to suggest to patrons?

Apeirogon by Colum McCann. Not only did this novel (based on two true stories) describe the experience of living at the point of contact between Israel and Palestine with more force and depth of feeling than anything else I’ve ever read, the construction of the novel itself is an artistic marvel. If someone isn’t sure they want to read the book, I still recommend they watch the interview with Colum McCann and the two men whose stories he has brought to stunningly beautiful and sorrowful life:

And, if looking for something a bit less serious, I highly recommend IQ by Joe Ide, Brood by Jackie Polzin, or We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry.

Why do you love being a librarian? 

I love connecting with people through conversations and experiences rather than through transactions. As a librarian, I get to talk to people about what they’re reading, what their interests are, what they are proud of and excited about, and what they love about living in their community. It doesn’t hurt that I love the types of work needed to create a people-centered library: getting the best books and materials, holding fun and educational activities and events, working with local organizations, and even troubleshooting the copier (well, maybe not that one).

Top three “desert island” books?

Oops, that’s four.

Which book you would most like to read again for the first time?

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Who is your favorite character from a book?

The White Queen in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

What is the last book that made you laugh?

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling