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Ian Graham, the new director of the Rockingham Free Public Library.

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Rockingham Free Public Library names new director

Ian Graham aims to keep the RFPL ‘warm and welcoming and ready’ for a community emerging from the pandemic

BELLOWS FALLS—Ian Graham is the new director of the Rockingham Free Public Library.

Graham comes to the RFPL from Rhode Island where, for the past five years, he was associate librarian of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence. He was previously director of library collections for a decade at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where he still has a home.

He started at the RFPL on Nov. 1.

How’s it going?

“I think it’s going great. You might want to ask the people around me, but I think it’s fantastic,” says the affable Graham.

“I’m just getting to know the library, the staff, the people in town, and trying some local coffee shops and restaurants,” he continues.

“I’ve wanted to be among the hills and here, with the canal and the Connecticut River — it’s everything for me,” Graham says. “There was a rainbow over Bellows Falls yesterday that I was taking pictures of, so for me, it’s been pretty magical.”

For now, Graham is living in Rockingham during the week and in Easton, Mass., on the weekends, but he intends to move here, something he’s been looking forward to for some time.

Why?

“I lived in Maine 15 to 20 years ago, and I really liked that,” he says. “Massachusetts was a nice place to raise my kids, but it’s much busier. I grew up in Kansas back in the ’70s, when it was more thinly populated, and I appreciate a place that’s quieter and more contemplative.”

He has also wanted for a long time to get involved with public library work and has been looking for opportunities in Vermont. He’s pleased with this one and looks forward to expanding the possibilities.

“The Rockingham Library is a decent-sized library, a pretty robust community library in a state where a lot of the towns are on the smaller side,” Graham says.

“Short-term, I’m really excited to be part of a group that’s coming out of the pandemic, as the activity of the library will increase, and to help reconnect the library with the community it serves,” he adds. “The library is a very popular place in the community, but like everything, it’s been impacted by Covid.”

He says that he is trying to make sure “the building, the staff, and the collections are really primed so things can improve — just to have the place warm and welcoming and ready.”

“Another thing is there’s a wonderful collection of historical materials about the town and the general area, and I’m eager and enthusiastic to do some exhibitions around the history of the town and help people learn more and connect with the history, which is fascinating. I think that’s a real opportunity for the library.”

Graham has a bachelor of arts degree from Drew University in Madison, N.J., where he majored in English and minored in Russian language and literature. He has a certificate of advanced studies in digital libraries from Syracuse University.

Asked some of his favorite authors, Graham agreed with Lorena Cuevas, the new director of the Moore Free Library in Newfane, that it’s kind of a mean question for a librarian.

“It’s a real embarrassment of riches that we can all appreciate,” he said of all the books to read in the world.

“But most recently, I fell in deep with Colson Whitehead, and I’ve read all but one of his books,” he says of the prolific novelist, essayist, and MacArthur fellow.

“I’m going to try to sample local writers, especially mystery writers,” he says. He has just started reading Archer Mayor, the Newfane mystery author.

I’m the kind of person who has half a dozen books on my table at home. I grabbed a biography of Bob Dylan here and checked it out to myself. Being surrounded by books, I grab what looks interesting.”

“Ian comes to our library with a lot of great experience running libraries, but perhaps the most exciting thing is his enthusiasm for the library and getting to know our town better,” says Library trustee board Chair Ellen Taetzsch. “I hope you will take a moment to meet him, share your stories, and welcome him to Rockingham.”

Graham replaces former Director Celina Houlne, who has stepped down after 14 years.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #639 (Wednesday, November 17, 2021). This story appeared on page A1.

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