Wilton Library embarks on a new chapter with new program manager

When Karen Danvers was a child, she wanted to be a librarian, because she thought it meant that she could read books all day. As the Wilton Library's new program manager, that doesn't exactly fit her job description — but close enough to suit her.

"It's a wonderful, gratifying job," said Ms. Danvers, who recently succeeded Sally Gemmell in the post. Ms. Gemmell retired in June.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Danvers said her favorite programs are "the author visits."

Last year at the Wilton Library, program offerings increased by 12% and drew more than 30,000 attendees. Ms. Danvers' new role is pivotal, according to Elaine Tai-Lauria, the library's executive director.

"As the program manager, Karen Danvers is an integral part of the Wilton Library team," she said. "What helps to make Wilton Library unique is the exceptional quality of program offerings. Our programs respond to the wide variety of interests and needs of our community. Karen oversees all aspects of adult programing — evaluation, selection, scheduling, coordination and execution of the events. Therefore, she plays a very important role in our organization, and we are delighted to have her here."

Ms. Danvers attributed the increasing success of the library's programs to the economic downturn. "We offer inexpensive ways to have cultural experiences," she said. "Also, they are experiences you might like to have, but don't have time for, such as our upcoming trip the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sept. 19."

Along with these types of ventures, the library also offers "so many diverse programs," Ms. Danvers said. Some examples are "the concerts, the New Perspective Documentary Film Series, and the literary series on poetry and literature, with our regulars, Ben Van Vetchten, Judson Scruton, Bill Ziegler and Joanna Ecke."

"In September, Mark Schenker of Yale will do a three-part series on Visions and Versions of America: Three Views from Fiction; and Gerald Weiss will be doing a four-part series on epic poetry in February," she said.

The library also sponsors civic forums, art and photography exhibits, films, health and safety presentations such as blood drives and hands-only CPR classes, among many other offerings.

Along with the variety of adult programs, the teen and children's offerings are also popular, according to Ms. Danvers, a native of Riverside who has lived in Wilton with her husband, Dave, and three children for nine years. "The Medieval Faire, which was the culmination of the children's summer reading program, drew more than 200 people last week," she said.

Ms. Danvers has worked at the Wilton Library since 2008.

For the first six months in her new post, Ms. Danvers said she wants to "get her feet wet," and stick fairly closely to the path blazed by her predecessor. "Sally did a wonderful job," Ms. Danvers said. "I have big shoes to fill."

Eventually, she hopes to blend her "own creativity" into the mix, she said.

Ms. Danvers said one "major event" she is anticipating is Wilton Reads Fall 2012: The Buddha in the Attic, with a reading by author Julie Otsuka, slated for Sunday, Oct. 21. "This novel won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the National Book Award," Ms. Danvers said. "Ms. Otsuka will be the fourth recipient of Wilton Library's Grodin Family Fine Writers Award."

"We hope all community members will join us," Ms. Danvers said.

When asked what her favorite book was as a child, Ms. Danvers doesn't hesitate. She produces a well read of copy of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, complete with the author's autograph.

"It was a thrill to meet her," Ms. Danvers recalled.