Person of the Week
New Job, New Building, New Town
With a background in book publishing as well as libraries, Allison Murphy is no adapting quickly to her new home in Clinton and new role as head of public services for the E.C. Scranton Memorial Library. (Photo courtesy of Allison Murphy )
“Everything I’ve done in my past has led to this,” Allison Murphy says.
Allison recalls that she went into the Mark Twain Library in Redding and started a conversation with a librarian there who was retiring. The librarian convinced Allison to apply to take her job once she retired. That was the start of a journey that has led to Allison becoming the new head of public services for the E.C. Scranton Memorial Library in Madison.
When Allison says she’s new here she isn’t exaggerating: She and her family moved to Clinton only six weeks ago and she started in her role at the library only three weeks ago.
“I’m really still learning what it is. I’ve worked in libraries before, though I was a children’s librarian for 15 years,” Allison says.
In her current role, Allison works to keep track of the circulation of items. That includes helping to quarantine books that are returned before they go back out as well as managing material requests and holds.
“I’m in charge of the circulation of materials, where and when books and things go out,” Allison says.
As more and more people realize what kinds of resources and materials the library has, in addition to books, that has led to an increase in demand for those materials.
“Right now, we’re really busy with getting them the material they want and renewing library cards,” Allison says.
“The group that works here is phenomenal,” Allison adds, noting how much there is to manage.
Working in a library was not always Allison’s calling. Initially, Allison worked as a teacher for a time before she got a dream job: working in the children’s book department for several publishing companies where she got to meet authors and travel for different publicity events to help with book promotion.
Though she worked in marketing, Allison says her job allowed her to see all that goes into getting books published, from the number of manuscripts that get sent to the offices to the first renditions of the art work.
“It really helped me to understand how a book was made from soup to nuts so to speak. There’s so much that goes into the book that’s in your hand,” Allison says.
After she left the publishing world to focus on raising her family it was the fortuitous conversation at the Mark Twain Library that led her down her current path. After working in Redding, she also worked in the Wallingford library before coming to Madison.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Scranton Library has limited walk-in services. This has, sadly, affected Allison’s ability to enjoy her favorite part of her job.
“My favorite part is the people. Libraries will always be about books and movies, but they’ll also be about people and the community,” Allison says.
Allison also points to the convenience the newly renovated library offers its patrons by being located smack dab in the middle of downtown Madison. Before COVID, it was not an uncommon sight to see parents in there reading to their kids, teenagers doing homework, or people of all ages coming in to attend a lecture or program hosted by the library.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting the people that come to the library once we’re able to,” Allison says.
For Allison, that reduction in interaction with the patrons and the library community has been hard
“We really miss all our patrons so much,” she stresses.
Allison grew up in the Hudson River Valley area of New York state near West Point and lived in Redding for a while, but then it became time to make a change.
“Redding is great. It’s full of trees and great hiking, but we love the water,” Allison explains.
Plus, with children in Boston and Manhattan, Clinton’s location by the water, and roughly halfway in between the two cities, made it an attractive place to live.
“As much as we loved Redding, it’s been great to discover the cool restaurants around Madison and Clinton,” says Allison.
As brand-new residents, Allison and her husband can be found getting their bearings in their new home and taking in the sights they moved to the shoreline to see.
“We love to drive down to the beach with sunset to watch it there,” Allison explains.
In her spare time Allison enjoys spending time outdoors kayaking or hiking, and of course, reading.
“You can’t be a librarian if you don’t like to read,” Allison says with a laugh.