Amy Ryan: Vineyard Haven's new library director
Amy Ryan is all smiles as she sits in her windowed office at the Vineyard Haven Public Library. From her desk she looks out at her new domain: the bookshelves, a row of computers, the busy circulation desk, even the front door where patrons come and go. "For me this is the dream job," she says.
After only three weeks in her new position as library director, Ms. Ryan is at once comfortable and a little disbelieving. Although directing a small, bustling library on an island is light-years away from her former job at the 50,000-volume New York Times Library in Manhattan, and although her former home in Hoboken, N.J., have little in common with Martha's Vineyard (except ferry boat connections), Ms. Ryan says she's confident she will feel at home here.
"It's somewhat new for me to be working in a public library," says Ms. Ryan, looking back on her years in New York after graduating from the University of Dallas. She was manager of the Rizzoli Bookstore on 57th Street and worked on a digital library project for Columbia University before taking her post at the New York Times Library.
As a book-loving teenager in Colorado doing volunteer work for the Arapahoe County Library System, she often thought she would enjoy working in a public library setting. But whether at a large technical research library or small public institution, a librarian's role is the same, Ms. Ryan says. "You're picking out books for your patrons. The patrons may vary but it's always about meeting their needs."
With her dark pulled-back hair, expressive eyes, and a quick laugh, Ms. Ryan gestures with slender fingers as she traces her journey to the Island, the Vineyard Haven library, and her recent marriage. It is a journey that seems to have come full circle.
Although she worked in New York City for 17 years, Ms. Ryan's parents were from Fall River, and she was born in Greenfield. So it is little wonder Ms. Ryan had a yearning to return to her small-town New England roots. But it was romance that clinched the deal and drew her to the Vineyard.
After a lengthy long-distance relationship, Ms. Ryan and West Tisbury police officer David Savage married just a week before she moved to the Island. "We hope we're here to stay," she says, admitting that after only three weeks on the job she has been so focused on getting acclimated at work she has had little opportunity to explore the Vineyard. But she is looking forward to it, especially to enjoying the Island's natural expanses.
Ms. Ryan is amused when people expect her to miss the excitement of big city living. "I was never that much into nightlife," she says. "It's peaceful here, and beautiful. I often feel at night when I leave work, that I'm on vacation, because I'm in the place where I used to come for vacation," she laughs. "It gives a boost to your workday to feel that energy."
Ms. Ryan has profound admiration for the library and describes several new programs, including cooking classes and foreign films, while quickly adding that she cannot take credit for them. She said that it is much too soon for her to think of making changes, and besides, thanks to the "creative and energetic staff," the library is operating excellently.
"Right now my role is to get to know the community," Ms. Ryan says. "And the fact that libraries are so important to the Island and have such community support and involvement is something I really appreciate."
"This is a wonderful opportunity," says Ms. Ryan, her sunny smile glowing even more brightly. "I'm so grateful the timing worked out so well for me. It does feel like a really good fit."
Staff and patrons have already given her a warm welcome, she says, and this Sunday afternoon, library trustees will host an open house, inviting the entire community to stop in and greet her.