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By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ Cyndi Desrochers is trying to love her new e-reader but, well, itâ€™s just not the same as holding a book.
The new director of the North Kingstown Free Library, who started her job Sept. 7 after serving as acting director of the West Warwick Public Library, finds the electronic device helpful for traveling.
â€śItâ€™s better than lugging 20 pounds of books in my suitcase,â€ť she laughs, â€śbut you donâ€™t read the same way. I like to read cover to cover and when you put down an e-reader itâ€™s not as easy to pick it up again. Thereâ€™s something comforting about having a book in your hands. It reminds you of going to the library as a child, of being read to.â€ť
In fact, she still remembers two childhood books that were very important: one, read to her by her mother, had a Christmas theme; the other was The Village That Slept, discovered when Cyndi was in sixth grade.
â€śI took it out of the library so much my mom bought it for me.â€ť
Despite being a lifelong bookworm, the Kansas native initially chose a different career path. She graduated from Kansas State University with degrees in Spanish and social work, receiving her masterâ€™s in library services from the University of Rhode Island after marrying and having children.
Attending URI, she says, â€śwas pre-ordained.â€ť Sheâ€™s been a professional librarian 21 years.
Cyndiâ€™s husband is a fulltime member of the Army National Guard stationed at Quonset; he was deployed to Iraq in 2005 and is also a nurse. The Desrochersâ€™ children are now grown; their daughter lives in Boston and their son in Arizona.
At the North Kingstown library, she is taking over at a time when state and local finances are in turmoil and support for such entities as municipal libraries is dwindling.
â€śWhen I was in West Warwick, in 1993, we closed for six weeks. Then the hours [of operation] were cut, cut, cut. The situation [with the library closure] in Central Falls is really scary. Whatever happens will affect a lot of different libraries in the state.
â€śYou want to do your best, provide your best. There will always be issues with funding but, hopefully, the town will continue [its financial support.]â€ť
Cyndi was encouraged last week when she met for the first time with the Friends of the Library board.
â€śItâ€™s really exciting to have a group like this,â€ť she says. â€śThey know what theyâ€™re doing.â€ť So far she has concentrated on learning the system, how things are done and becoming acquainted with the staff.
â€śIt will probably take another three to four weeks to get comfortable. Itâ€™s a hard thing learning everyoneâ€™s name, putting names with faces.â€ť
Sheâ€™s looking forward to getting suggestions and opinions and notes that a long-range plan for library development expires in 2013 and will need updating.
The North Kingstown library continues to be a hub of activity with a variety of diverse programs, a popular bank of public computers and heavy use of reading materials and DVDs.
In the last fiscal year, Cyndi notes, 363,989 items were checked out and a total of 187,828 visits were recorded.
As a native Kansan, she says trading one form of severe weather â€“ tornadoes â€“ for the hurricanes, flooding and heavy snow â€“ wasnâ€™t terrible. For one thing, she recalls the obligatory storm cellars of Kansas as disgusting spider-filled places.
And then there was the unfortunate Dorothy and her close encounter with high winds.
â€śMy mom was kid when The Wizard of Oz came out. It scared her to death.â€ť
The Desrochers have two yellow Labs at home. Buster was rescued and Tessie thinks sheâ€™s a Yorkie.
â€śWe watch football on Sundays with her draped across my lap.â€ť
Cyndi also scuba dives and, for 20 years, has taught exercise classes at the YMCA.
Not surprisingly, she reads voraciously. Her all-time favorite book is Gone with the Wind.
â€śItâ€™s one of the few books that Iâ€™ll watch as a movie.â€ť
A youthful fondness for the Hardy Boys is probably responsible for Cyndiâ€™s devotion to mysteries.
â€śI love to solve them,â€ť she says.