Guest columnist Luna Greenwood: Leaving library with thanks to Hadley, stellar memories

By LUNA GREENWOOD

Published: 07-27-2023 5:19 PM

As someone who has lived all over the world, I can tell you with some authority that Hadley is truly a gem of a community.

The last dozen years as the children’s librarian in Hadley have been the best years of my life. It has been a privilege and a joy to know and truly care about so many Hadley Library patrons. We have shared many personal ups and downs, worked, played and sang together, and talked about our favorite books. I am writing this letter to say a huge thank you and also a sad goodbye. It’s time for me to move on.

Thank you for allowing me to hold your darling babies, trusting me with your toddlers at Lunatunes, and bringing your big kids to create art with me, even when I was handing them sharp knives. You trusted me with your children’s favorite stuffies, knowing they would pull an all-nighter, driving around town in pursuit of pizza, video games and silly selfies with Hadley police officers.

For two years you trusted me to teach you to play the ukulele, even though I was only one YouTube video ahead of you!

People in Hadley give generously of their time and resources; this was my unwavering experience. You brought over cornhole games and kept score, you donated your products: coffee, doughnuts, pizza, and cupcakes. You bought bags of ice when we made ice cream, and then ran back out to buy ice cream when our efforts turned to soup.

You showed up for Lunatunes every Thursday morning, even back in the old Goodwin building where we didn’t even have a children’s room. You risked the steep stairs to gather in the basement for the Hokey Pokey, pumpkin carving and talent shows. We made batches of slime, and watched movies on the floor in our sleeping bags. You showed up again and again, and together we created memories. Some events were more memorable than others.

I will always remember the Summer Reading Kickoff when the hot dog cart wouldn’t work. We had to call in the Hadley Fire Department to help fire it up, as over 100 children and parents ran an obstacle course and chased one another with balloon swords. When we finally gave up, I ran across the street to the Stanley residence to cook 300 hot dogs in their kitchen!

Meanwhile, the Girl Scouts whipped up pink cones of cotton candy and Mary Wholley passed out paper bags of popcorn as fast as she could. It was a gorgeous, happy evening. We did this same sort of glorious community party every summer, although we switched to serving pizza. What made it all work out was your enthusiasm and how you pitched in. I don’t mean a handful of you, but hundreds of you! As they say, “It takes a village,” and Hadley has been one of the very best.

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In the new building I was lucky to work in the most beautiful children’s room in the Valley, with actual sunlight and plenty of space for big kids and little ones. The library formed an alliance with Mandy Gerry of the Hadley/Northampton Early Childhood Center, and with that alliance came babies and more babies, toddlers galore and preschoolers from all over the Valley.

This was a dream of mine: to be a destination library for our youngest patrons. And that dream came true! Mandy is a true community hero, and if you are 5 or under, I hope you get to meet her in the fall.

If it sounds like all I did was play with kids, you wouldn’t be far off. I have always believed that one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to teach them to love books and treasure the public library; the most important part of my job was to get kids to love the library. It will offer them a lifelong free resource for finding community, stories and information, as well as fun!

Wherever you go in America, wherever you live, there will be a public library with free offerings: books, computers, printers, newspapers, space to think or write, groups to make new friends and creative programs. And hopefully community parties!

It was an honor to be one small part of the library experience for Hadley families. I say “small part” because it is true: It takes many people to pull these experiences together, from voters to town administrators, from library trustees to parents who drive their children to library programs.

Don’t forget The Friends of the Hadley Library, who raise money for Summer Reading popsicles, goldfish crackers, and wonderful performers. There are loyal volunteers like Joyce, Marilyn, Carol, Miriam, Joanne and Meghan; there would be no books on the shelves without these quiet heroes. My very visible job was only made possible by the ongoing tireless support of many other people holding down the fort, sitting through meetings and ordering DVDs. While I was wearing a dinosaur costume to the preschool, my wonderful co-worker Sue was checking out new books to you.

But I happened to have had the most colorful job; I loved it because you brought your students, you came after work, you pitched in and you were kind. Some of you brought me broccoli salad, some of you brought your goats! All of you believed in the value of community. To everyone who appreciated my efforts, thank you. Thank you so much.

Luna Greenwood lives in Florence. She served as the children’s librarian at Hadley Public Library for more than a dozen years.

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