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Librarian Starting a New Chapter

Jane Atkinson may be leaving after 35 years as director of the Weston Library, but what she plans on doing next may or may not surprise you.

"This will sound very strange, but one of the things I plan to do a lot of is reading," said Atkinson, who says she wants to trade book reviews for more leisurely books. "I guess I'm a book nut—I love books."

Atkinson, who announced her retirement in April, has spent her whole life in libraries, working at Wesleyan University and in school libraries wherever her children were. She came to Weston three-and-a-half decades ago when a friend suggested she apply for the job.

"A dear friend was on the library board here, and she understood my disease of working in libraries, so even when I wasn't ready, she suggested I come here and fill out an application, which I did," said Atkinson. As it turned out, when the time came to fill a spot, hers was the only application on file.

But books are not the only things that keep Atkinson coming to work every day. "The books are great, but the people are even better. It's wonderful, being here so long I've gotten to know many different people," she said. Many regulars rely on her to let them know when the latest books are added to the shelves and for suggestions of titles they might enjoy. "Being here that long you get to know what people really like, and it's fun. Also, they know what I would like [to read], so it works both ways."

A lot has changed at the library since Atkinson arrived. The biggest? Computers. Atkinson said it took time for her to get used to the new technology. "I used to be afraid, literally, of the machine itself—afraid I'd break it." She said she feels computers have negatively impacted the library, taking away visitors who now use computers to find their information. But Atkinson sticks to the books. She says she can find more in-depth information.

Atkinson, who will stick around until a new director is hired, said she decided to retire when the library board began to make a strategic plan for the future of the building. "I got to thinking, I'm not the one who should be working on this. If I'm going to retire ... it probably makes sense for me to retire now.

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