Ever wonder what that big, brick building is across the street from Chill on Park? It’s the Fields Corner Branch of the Boston Public Library and it has been entwined in the fabric of our community since it’s opening in 1969.This month at Chill on Park, we’ve been celebrating #FamilyLiteracyMonth. We thought it would be fun to sit down with Fields Corner Children’s Librarian Cindy Dye to talk about libraries, literacy, and of course ice cream!
Chill on Park: How long have you been working at the Fields Corner Library?
Cindy Dye: I’ve been here eight or nine years. I joined the library in 1987 and I was first at the Washington Village Branch for a couple of years. Then I went to the Egleston Square Branch for about 17. I’m coming up on 30 years [as a BPL librarian]. It’s really weird feeling like you’ve been at a place as long as I have.
Chill: Did you always want to be a librarian?
Cindy: Actually I was going to be an archivist. My plan was to work with rare books and materials. My original intention was to come out [here], get my degree, and go back to Colorado where I grew up to work in western archives.
But, I’ve always liked children’s books. When I was at Simmons, I took a course there on children’s literature. Most of the people in the class were planning on being school librarians or children’s librarians. [The teacher] had us all getting up and tell stories, and after that she looked at me and said, “You are going to be a children’s librarian in a public library.” She was right. I really do think it’s one of the best choices I could have made.
Chill: What is your favorite part about being a children’s librarian?
Cindy: I like the storytelling part of it obviously but [I really like] connecting children with ideas, stories, and narratives. Being that person who bring things together is probably the most satisfying thing I do.
One of the most fun things, since I’ve been in Boston for so long, is hearing, “Hey, library lady!” from all over eastern Massachusetts [and beyond]. My distance record is JFK airport in New York. I’ve heard “Hey, library lady,” there.
Chill: What are your favorite stories to read to kids?
Cindy: I try to teach children about folklore, folk stories, rumors, things like, “How long does your bubble gum stay in your stomach if you swallow it?” There are still kids [that say] seven years. That’s what I heard when I was a kid growing up and it is complete nonsense. But we believed it, it was bubblegum—it was different. Introducing kids to the idea that even though a whole lot of people are saying [it’s true], it can be false.
Chill: Do you have a favorite book?
Cindy: Usually the book I’ve been reading. If you had asked me when I was 15, I would’ve said My Side of the Mountain. Five years ago I would have said Lord of the Rings. Trying to pick a favorite book is incredibly difficult because there are so many different ways books can be your favorite.
Chill: Do you remember a book that greatly impacted your life as a kid?
Cindy: I think My Side of the Mountain because it was a story about someone who took the information that they learned in books, and went out and applied it in the real world. [It] wasn’t a revelation to me, but was a powerful expression.
Chill: Why is literacy important to you?
Cindy: Literacy is important to me partly because of experience: I went to Turkey with the Air National Guard in 1979 and I walked off the plane [and saw] no signs in English. It’s a shock to the system trying to make sense out of what you are seeing. There are barriers to literacy in age—if you come to a new country as an adult, learning a language is much more difficult than as a child.
I go to see groups that are primarily non-English speakers and I say, “Read to your child in the language you know best. Talk about books in the language you know best.” I want people to be empowered, to understand, and literacy is a huge part of that. Literacy is a key that unlocks many doors.
Chill: What’s your favorite part about doing Chill on Park’s Monthly Children’s Story Hour?
Cindy: It’s a chance to tell stories and it’s a chance to talk about stories. It’s a chance to present some of the books we have, either older titles that people aren’t aware of anymore or new titles they’ve never seen. It also gets people more interested in folklore and folktales. We have some great folktales in the collection, so again that’s me connecting the collection to the families. Plus, it’s fun to take that step out of the building.
Chill: We have to ask, what’s your favorite flavor of ice cream or other product at Chill on Park?
Cindy: Salted Caramel truffle. That’s addictive stuff! [I also love] the black iced tea with lots of ice, just by itself; all it needs is tea and ice.
Want to hear Cindy read some children’s stories and folktales? Join us for the November Children’s Story Hour: Tasty Stories on 11/17 at 6pm! Have an idea for a story-related event at Chill on Park? Give us a call at (617) 297–5401.