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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, itâs 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.
âItâs better than lugging 20 pounds of books in my suitcase,â she laughs, âbut you donât read the same way. I like to read cover to cover and when you put down an e-reader itâs not as easy to pick it up again. Thereâs 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
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.
âI took it out of the library so much my mom bought it for me.â
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 masterâs in library services from the University of Rhode Island after marrying and having children.
Attending URI, she says, âwas pre-ordained.â Sheâs been a professional librarian 21 years.
Cyndiâs 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.
âWhen 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.
âYou 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
Cyndi was encouraged last week when she met for the first time with the Friends of the Library board.
âItâs really exciting to have a group like this,â she says. âThey know what theyâre doing.â So far she has concentrated on learning the system, how things are done and becoming acquainted with the staff.
âIt will probably take another three to four weeks to get comfortable. Itâs a hard thing learning everyoneâs name, putting names with faces.â
Sheâs 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 wasnât 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.
âMy mom was kid when The Wizard of Oz came out. It scared her to death.â
The Desrochers have two yellow Labs at home. Buster was rescued and Tessie thinks sheâs a Yorkie.
âWe watch football on Sundays with her draped across my lap.â
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.
âItâs one of the few books that Iâll watch as a movie.â
A youthful fondness for the Hardy Boys is probably responsible for Cyndiâs devotion to mysteries.
âI love to solve them,â she says.