New children’s librarian finds niche in Lower Mills

Jackie Gentile, Special to the Reporter
Jan. 19, 2012

Angela Bonds has begun her duties as the new childrens’ librarian at the Lower Mills BPL branch. Photo by Jackie Gentile

There’s a new face at the Lower Mills Library. Angela Bonds is finding her stride as the branch’s children’s librarian. A Roxbury native, she worked at the Central Library in Copley Square for 13 years.

As a student at Boston Latin Academy, Bonds worked with friends after school, often racing each other to shelve a cartful of books. She also worked at the circulation desk, which became a favorite task for the shy teenager.

“I had the best experience and I know a lot of people don’t love working in circulation but I had so much fun,” said Bonds.

“I liked talking to a lot of people. I felt like it was really fun just to talk to them for just a second and find out if they’re visiting [and ask] where are they from and say, ‘This is a good book. What about this one?’”

Bonds earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Framingham State University and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Simmons College, taking classes part-time and working full-time.

Though Bonds “wasn’t the biggest fan” of her high school librarian, she had positive influences from the BPL. Alice Stern, who worked in the young adult section; Kendall Flowers, about whom Bonds said, “My 17-year-old self loved her”; and Allison Deseife, who was the children’s librarian at the time. All had a hand in guiding Bonds to her profession.

“When I saw how it is in the public library, it felt more open, it felt more welcoming, I was like ‘oh, this is cool,’” she said. “Maybe I do want to be a librarian. I like being here. That helped a lot.”

As the children’s librarian, one of Bonds’ responsibilities is preschool and toddler story time on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, respectively. Though the activity is currently called circle time, she is figuring out how to “brand” it, given its diverse lineup: three stories, a few songs depending on the children’s attention span, and finally, crafts that relate to the stories’ theme that day.

Students from surrounding schools visit for homework help in the afternoons. Bonds helps students with computer work and finding books.

Previously, Bonds had worked at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, which is housed in the Central Library. In her three years there, she worked with rare maps, helped researchers find maps they were looking for and conducted remote research, finding maps for those out of state.

“It’s interesting to go from being public service to being some researcher,” she noted. “It’s so weird. It’s so much quieter. Now here, it’s like so much stuff [is] happening. You can’t sit down.”

Though she is only three months into her new position, Bonds has big plans for the Lower Mills branch including improving circulation, signing more kids up for library cards, creating programs for teenagers and hosting a summer event for library visitors.

One age group in whom Bonds wants to spur interest in the library is teenagers, especially 16- to 18-year-olds.

“I can design programs for them but since I’m still getting to know them, I feel like it’s a slow process,” she said. “I’m hoping that I can bring something new to the library – maybe something bigger.”

With her warm, inviting and eager disposition and sense of humor, Bonds seems the right fit for the job, comparing her job to her family.

“Crazy things happen. You might not agree with everything but it’s your home, it’s your family,” she said. “I love everything about working in the library and working in the BPL specifically.”