Friends of all ages celebrate career of children's librarian

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BENNINGTON — Chris Poggi has worked to inspire a love of reading in children for 20 years.

"One thing I love is when you find a book for a kid that they are just crazy about," Poggi said. "They come back and say, can I have the next one in the series? That feels nice to help them."

Poggi, a longtime children's librarian at the Bennington Free Library, will retire at the end of the month. Friends, colleagues and library members gathered at the library Wednesday afternoon to celebrate her time there.

"I always felt that it was a job that I wanted to have when i grew up. But I didn't know it until I got it," she said in an interview Wednesday. "I loved being a librarian. It's been a great job."

Poggi came to the library 20 years ago with fellow children's librarian Linda Donigan. They taught at a nursery school together. They frequented the library a lot in their job, Poggi said. They applied for jobs there when two librarians left. Giesel Lehovec, who worked in the role for about 20 years herself, was her mentor.

Both Poggi and Donigan have also been recognized for their work promoting learning in STEM fields.

Being able to connect children with books that they like has been a joy, Poggi said.

"When you find that one they do like, it means so much."

She remembers visiting the Mount Anthony Union Middle School recently. One girl was talking about a book series she liked, and was excited when Poggi said a new installment had come out.

"That day after school, she came and checked out the book," she said.

Her role gives her a window into children's lives, Poggi said.

"We see them at their best," she said. "To share that little part of them, and to have them come back again, that has meant a lot to me."

She's also been able to watch them grow.

"Sometimes we get people who come back when they're in their 20s, just to see us," she said.

Poggi's final day will be Dec. 27. Friends are invited to bring her a photo or drawing for her memory book. You can find her in the children's room until then.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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