TRUMBULL, Conn. -- The new director of the Trumbull Library Systems comes to town after a 12-year stint working at an island-based library in Florida.
Public libraries are "the heart of America's communities," said Stefan Lyhne-Nielsen.
Today is the beginning of his second week at the helm of the town's two libraries.
"It’s the face of government that serves the public directly on a daily basis, building and administrating shared community resources – from books and DVDs to meeting rooms and technology to book clubs and cultural events," he said Monday.
He is tasked with finding ways to balance library services while connecting community members with the libraries and each other.
While technology has redefined how users get information and communicate, it also emphasizes "the need for community centers like the library for in-person contact" is needed now more than ever, according to Lyhne-Nielsen.
Programs like story times for kids and townwide One Book, One Town demonstrate a "need for group learning and discovery that fosters social literacy that is healthy of a town like Trumbull. I feel honored to have the opportunity to help in creating those experiences," he said.
In Florida, Lyhne-Nielsen was recently the assistant regional librarian for Volusia County, serving as branch manager for the Daytona Beach Regional Library on City Island. The island is just off the mainland in the Halifax River, more commonly known as the Intracoastal Waterway, he said. "It has palm trees, dolphins, manatees and a variety of other wildlife."
Lyhne-Nielsen has two master's degrees: a master of library science degree from Florida State University and a master of public affairs from Indiana University.
With relatives in Massachusetts and New York, his family had talked about moving north, he said.
"Our main reasons for choosing Trumbull were the excellent schools in the area and the proximity to family."
He related some of the highlights of being a librarian.
"While most of the time our patron information needs are simple interactions where we find them a book or point them to a resource, every now and then you will get that patron that truly needs your help in finding the answer to something really important," he said, relating some of the reasons he enjoys his work.
A high point is when "we discover that answer with them," he continued.
"It’s like a visible flood of relief that goes straight through them. I’ve had people cry with joy because they finally knew what to do or where to go – some even go so far as the awkward hug. It’s a special moment that doesn’t happen often but when it does it reaffirms my reasons for why I love public service."
While it is still premature to outline upcoming plans, he pointed to the strategic plan in place since February. Among goals is one to address the library system's space.
"It says a great deal about what the community would like to see, in particular regarding the need to repurpose the library system and its services so that it better meets Trumbull’s cultural, information and technology needs both now and in the future."
The Trumbull Main Library is at 33 Quality St. The Fairchild Nichols Memorial Branch is at 1718 Huntington Turnpike.