Jen Peabody joined the board in 2021 after working as a library assistant for the past few years. She is thrilled to take on this new role, but admits to missing some aspects of her time working at the circulation desk. “There was always an interesting conversation that made the day special and made me feel connected to the community. I met so many delightful people and looked forward to seeing the regulars each week. I loved learning about and from our patrons.” Jen plans to leverage this customer knowledge to inform her new role on the Board.
During the six years Jen has lived in Stephentown, she has found a real sense of community thanks to her involvement in various organizations, including the Stephentown Food Pantry and Stephentown Volunteer Fire Department in addition to the library. “Volunteering has been one of the best ways to meet people and feel connected and engaged.”
Libraries have always played a key role in Jen’s life. One of her first volunteer experiences was at the St. Albans Free Library in St. Albans, Vermont. After dropping out of high school, working a volunteer job, along with getting a GED, was part of her agreement with her mom. The library volunteer job was a transformative experience. “I had always enjoyed using libraries before, being a bookworm,” Jen explains, “but I had never had the insider view of how many lives the library touches, especially in a small town.” The volunteer job not only introduced her to good friends but built practical job skills that opened new doors, like customer service, organization, inventory, and research.
Jen pursued a different interest in college, studying theater and costume design at the University of Vermont. She toyed with the idea of getting a Masters degree in Library Science at the beginning of her professional career but veered into project management for the New England Journal of Medicine where she worked for 15 years. She continues to value and use libraries, always checking them out first when considering a new place to live. “My typical routine has always included a weekly trip to the library to find new fiction, read magazines, or browse books about a new hobby or interest.”
“I was originally drawn to libraries because of what they offered me – a huge amount of free resources for learning and entertainment. Now I appreciate and want to give back to libraries for what they offer us. They are truly democratic in how they operate and serve. They help level the playing field. They expand horizons. They promote understanding. They strengthen communities.”