When she’s not pouring over British mysteries, hanging out with her family (a seventh-grade son, two second-grade daughters, and a fellow-librarian husband), or clutching a cup of Connecticut Muffin coffee, Stephanie Brueckel keeps the Park Slope Library bookish as the head librarian (or in BPL parlance, “Neighborhood Library Supervisor – she’ll explain).
With the new-and-improved branch back in business finally back in business, we snuck behind the front desk to chat with Stephanie about the new digs, the future of print, and the best British mystery writers of all time.
The renovations are finally done! What about the Park Slope Library 2.0 are you most excited about?
I love the beautiful restoration of the stained glass – it’s breathtaking. On a more practical note, the ramp and elevator make the building accessible to all for the first time, and having a larger number of computers and the new iPads for young children is great!
What is your job, exactly?
The actual title is Neighborhood Library Supervisor…and I think that the “neighborhood” is very important. I have an awesome staff, so I see my role as making sure we make the best possible connection with the neighborhood through programming, service at the front desk, etc.
Is this always what you saw yourself doing?
I always loved books, and when certain other career paths didn’t work out, I went back and got my MLS. But I took a few more turns before landing at the BPL. I started at the BPL in 1996 and it is my first and only “real library” job.
A lot of people, I think, see librarians as basically people who tell them where books are. But obviously there’s more to it than that.
It’s really evolved to be more about relations with the communities, just as libraries have evolved to be more “community centers” than the shush-shush places most of us remember from our own childhoods.
Any tough calls so far?
We’ve only been open two [now three!] weeks–no tough calls yet. I was not involved in things prior to the opening; other departments handle the decision-making with renovations.
How can people take better advantage of what the library (and the librarians) has to offer?
People can access the catalog from home and download e-books for free 24/7. They just need to have their library card handy. Also, we will be having programming at the branch starting the second week in October – storytimes, arts and crafts, tween and teen gaming programs, and a movie on Wednesday, October 31 to celebrate Halloween! Calendars are available at the info desk [and at our post here].
Speaking of eBooks — is the end of print neigh?
Nope, our circulation figures systemwide indicate the end of print is nowhere near nigh. But it’s great you can check out e-books also.
Personally, though, do you read them?
We own an iPad, but I still like print. [I] think iPad reading will be awesome for traveling, though.
What do you read for fun? Any recommendations?
Favorite authors tend to be British mystery writers: Ruth Rendell, (“The St. Zita Society,” and another new book under her pseudonym Barbara Vine coming out in December) P.D. James, (“Death Comes to Pemberley,” great for book clubs!) Val McDermid (new book, “Vanishing Point” available to put on hold), John Lawton’s Inspector Troy series, James R. Benn’s (fellow librarian in Connecticut!) Billy Boyle series.
And what the last book you checked out?
The last book I checked out was Rick Steve’s London, for a trip my husband and I have planned for February.
So if you weren’t a librarian, what would you be doing?
We have two daughters adopted from China, and I would be doing something in the adoption world. Maybe related to putting paperwork together, as I’m pretty good at ferreting out information quickly.
Favorite place to read?
Perfect Park Slope weekend?
Prospect Park with the kids with my Connecticut Muffin coffee in hand, food truck rally at Grand Army Plaza, maybe a movie at the Pavilion or volunteering for an event at my kids’ school, AYSO soccer on the Parade Grounds…
Best thing about the neighborhood?
So walkable, everything you could need within a pretty small area, Prospect Park!!!
Most annoying thing (Park Slope pet peeve)?
Not going there.