The 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 talked to Jessica FitzHanso, Head of Reader Services.

As you might imagine, Jessica is an avid reader!  She grew up in the Boston area and received her degree in Library Science in Albany, New York, before returning home to Massachusetts to work for the Chelmsford Public Library.  She loves to travel and hopes to do so again someday!  Closer to home, she enjoys biking, hiking, camping, gardening, and discovering new reasons to love New England.

We asked Jessica…


What was your first library?

“The First library I remember was the Christa McAuliffe branch of the Framingham Public Library. Christa McAuliffe was a teacher in Framingham, and was the first teacher in space on the Challenger, which tragically exploded at liftoff in 1986. They renamed the branch in 1987 in her memory.

I remember my first library card was yellow with a picture of a tree in the corner. When I was a little older, I used to ride my bike there to pick up Choose Your Own Adventure books, Redwall, and later, books by R. L. Stine and the Sweet Valley High series.  In 2016, they moved the McAuliffe branch to a new location, and built a beautiful building commemorating space flight with large windowed walls that fill the space with natural light. It is definitely worth a visit for library lovers.”

What is on your nightstand right now?

Tiny Nightmares: Very Short Tales of Horror edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto

The Silence by Don DeLillo

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman

Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald

It takes me a while to finish one book but I usually have five or six going at once!

What book do you love to suggest to patrons?

“My recommendation of what to read really depends on the person asking. Everyone’s tastes are different, and I don’t know if there is a one-size-fits-all. But, I do have a couple of favorites that I know are often enough on the shelves. A Visit from the Goon Squad is possibly my favorite recent title. It’s all about technology, time and memory, and the impact of all of these on each other and our individual and shared humanity. I also really love Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradhal as a pick for people looking for a bit more of a straightforward, uplifting story. It follows a young woman on her journey to become a great chef. It includes recipes!

What are your top three “desert island” books?

Ulysses by James Joyce

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Don Quixote by Cervantes

I think that if I were stranded on a desert island, I might have enough time to finish and fully digest each of those. And they are each really fascinating and surprising.


What is your favorite place to read?


Who are your top five favorite authors?

“It’s really hard to choose. Right now: Lauren Groff, Jenny Offill, Rachel Kushner, Valeria Luiselli, and Sigrid Nunez.”

Who is your favorite character from a book?

“Boris in Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.”

Why do you love being a librarian?

“I know it’s a pretty boring response, but I love to help people. Whether it’s introducing people to a new service, opening them up to a new book, or providing  the experience of a great program. And I love working amidst all the books!”