BERLIN — The Berlin-Peck Library has a new executive director.
Kimberly McNally began serving her post in late June, replacing former director Helen Malinka, who retired in April after a decade in Berlin.
McNally, who is originally from Florida, has been a professional librarian for the last 10 years. She comes to Berlin from the Durham Public Library, where she served as assistant director since 2018. Before relocating to Connecticut that year, McNally and her husband lived in Portland, Oregon.
McNally worked as a reference librarian at the Battle Ground Community Library in Vancouver, Washington, eventually working her way up to branch manager, a position she held from 2013 to 2018.
“Many people think working at the library is about books and the collection is important, but my favorite part of working at the library is the people” said McNally. “The opportunity to understand a community, support library staff, and advocate on their behalf motivates me every day.”
But McNally wasn’t always in the business of books.
Before she became a librarian, she spent nine years working in commercial real estate, doing site selection for Starbucks Coffee Co., and later retail investment sales. Then, one day she asked herself: “If I could do anything what would I do?”
“I am a lifelong library user and that very day I was headed to the library to volunteer with an adult literacy program, and I realized, 'I want to work at the library!' I am drawn to libraries because they are the heart of the community and a great equalizer for everyone,” said McNally.
She earned a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida before beginning her second career in the library field.
“I attended library school at the University of South Florida, having never officially worked in a library before. It was a big risk and to this day I’m grateful,” said McNally. “I love working with people so it’s the perfect career for me."
She currently serves as chair-elect of the Connecticut Library Consortium’s Board of Directors, and shared her enthusiasm about joining the team at the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library.
McNally’s favorite part of working as a librarian, she said, is the “aha!” moment patrons get when they find what they are looking for.
“Sometimes people come to the library with a task to complete, a piece of information to locate, or a one-word description of a book they are looking for and they just aren’t sure of the next step,” said McNally. “We are trained to ask the right questions to help a patron find what they need.”
In her spare time, McNally loves to explore the country. She has visited 46 states and as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic withers away, she hopes to explore the rest of the country. Being an avid reader herself, she always takes a book with her.
“I remember my vacations based on what I read - “Anne of Green Gables” on a lake in South Carolina, “Circle of Friends” on the shores of Lake Michigan, and “The Folded Leaf” in the mountains of Tennessee,” said McNally. “Now, to figure out how to see Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, and North Dakota - I think that will take quite a few trips, and a big list of books.”