By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson – For the past 12 years, Hudson Public Library patrons of all ages became accustomed to interacting with Debbie Backman either as the reference or children’s librarian. Now, she’s the new library director.
Backman initially studied to become a teacher and received a bachelor’s degree at Eastern Washington University. While living in Wyoming where her husband was stationed in the U.S. Air Force, she worked as a substitute teacher and applied for a temporary, part-time job as a librarian.
“The job was supposed to be for three months, but it actually lasted for three and a half years,” she relayed with a laugh. “That’s when I knew that library work was for me. I got the bug to get my degree and become a librarian.”
Soon after earning a master’s degree in library sciences at Simmons College in 2003, Backman worked at the Milton Public Library while a staff member was on maternity leave. A few months later in early 2004, she applied and was hired as reference librarian in Hudson by then-director Patricia “Trish” Desmond, who served in the position for 26 years.
“I was very lucky to get work straight out of school,” Backman acknowledged.
While working as reference librarian, Backman discussed her interest in ultimately wanting to become a director with Desmond.
“Trish recommended being a children’s librarian because you run the whole department and supervise people, so I’d get skills,” Backman explained.
In 2006, Backman became the children’s librarian. For the past nine years, she reported to work in the downstairs children’s room. She organized activities and regularly led story times featuring a noisy parade.
“Kids lighten up when they see you and hear the stories,” she said. “I enjoyed becoming a part of their lives and them becoming a part of my life. It was a family atmosphere. I became friends with regular patrons who I see around town. A lot of people in the community know of the library because of the preschool area and its programs.”
With the library’s proximity to Wood Square, Backman appreciates being involved in the recent downtown revitalization.
“We like being right inside the middle of the community,” she said. “People like coming here. The staff is very friendly and customer service based. That’s a very valuable asset, which I’d like to continue.”
The most notable difference of the library in the past 12 years is its technological progression, Backman noted.
“We’ve added so much technology between the computers that we’ve upgraded, going to wireless, having iPads and Kindles,” she said. “It keeps growing, but a lot of people still like physical books, especially in the children’s room. Even in the adult area many people do still like the physical book.”
While Backman adjusts to reporting to the director’s office upstairs, she cherishes years of memories in the children’s room.
“I’ll most miss hearing stories of kids achieving their reading goals,” she shared. “Many people say that their child had a hard time reading, and now they can’t put a book down until they finish it. I’ll probably still go downstairs for some children’s programs.”
Backman will also likely implement lessons she learned from her 12 years working at the Hudson library.
“I’d like to continue what Trish has been doing: making the library someplace people want to visit, and to be progressive in the technology that’s down the road,” she said. “I’m excited to be the library director and I’m looking forward to continuing the traditions.”