Fields’ Corner’s children’s librarian is leaving a rich legacy as she retires

Cynthia “Cindy” Dye
Cassidy McNeeley photo

Cynthia “Cindy” Dye’s story is not over, but the chapter about her life as the Fields Corner children’s librarian is nearing its final pages. Originally from Colorado, Dye, came to Boston in 1985 to pursue her master’s degree in Library Science at Simmons University. Dye figured she would then return to Colorado but an assignment during a Children’s Literature class with Professor Margaret Bush changed her mind.

“One of the things we did was storytelling and when I got done with my storytelling, Professor Bush said, ‘You’re going to be a children’s librarian in a public library’ and I said, ‘No, I’m not, lady,’” said Dye, who thought she would be working on Western history archives back home. “Thirty-six years later I’m a children’s librarian in a public library. She was spot on with that prediction.” 

Dye began her career at the now-closed Washington Village Branch of the Boston Public Library System (BPL), then moved on to Egleston Square. After 17 years there, the East Boston resident joined the Dorchester community as the children’s librarian in the Fields Corner branch. 

At each location, Dye was dedicated to “connecting the community to the collection.” It was a commitment that involved to know the people who made up that community. 

Whether it was with children at Pajama Story Time, teens playing games on the computers, or adults looking to print out forms, Dye connected with just about anyone who entered the small library on Dorchester Avenue, which, as time went by, made her a familiar face and engaging personality in local stores and businesses, on buses and trains – and in an airport in New York.

“The farthest away I’ve ever heard ‘Hey, library lady’ was at JFK airport. I was waiting for a plane to get back to Boston and two of my [library] kids were on the same flight, and I wound up sitting telling stories waiting for the flight.”

Dye’s day-to-day tasks include planning programs, suggesting books, teaching people how to use the library, and making sure everyone knows about the various resources in the community. 

“People who are new to the neighborhood don’t know where the community centers are, people who are new to Boston don’t know how powerful it is to get on the Boston website, or how to get the neighborhood newsletters,” said Dye. “So, I talk about that stuff to people who are new [to the library].” 

Because Fields Corner will soon be closed for renovations, Dye’s workdays have been quite different lately. “We’re getting ready to close the building so right now I’m doing weeding of books because we can only store a certain number of them before we close the building,” Dye told The Reporter. “I used to spend a lot of time reading book reviews but this last year I haven’t had to do that because we are not buying anything new.”

After the library closes, the building will be knocked down and replaced with a two-story 14,500 square-foot facility that will be twice the size of the current branch. While everything will be new, the goals of the library staff will be the same. “It’s super important for us to teach people not just about the stuff in the library, but how to find the stuff, how to use the library. Empower them so the next time they come they know how to do it.” Dye said. “How they use the library shapes the library.” 

Even though most children are currently obsessed with Dav Pilkey’s “Dog Man” series, Dye stresses that all libraries need to have a diverse collection of books. 

“Different viewpoints are important. I think we should have old books as well as new books. I think we should have opportunities to stumble across something we didn’t know anything about,” she said. “I always encourage people, ‘When you go to the library, go to the shelves and wait for serendipity to strike.’” 

Dye’s last day of work will be July 24, and soon after she will, at long last, return to Colorado. Once back out west, she has clear expectations about what she will do: “In my copious free time, I will probably do more writing. I’ve been a fan fiction writer since I was ten and one of my focuses has been Sherlock Holmes.”

She also hopes to research and write about the evolution of Folk Tales and about some of her theories on “representation in children’s books.” It would be a full circle-moment to have her published work in a library one day, maybe even in Field Corner. Whatever the case, she will always be a part of BPL.

A statement from the Friends of Fields Corner Public Library affirms that notion:

“Cindy Dye is a dynamic force in the BPL and the Fields Corner community. When newcomers walk into the Fields Corner Library, she greets them and offers to help them find books, use the library technology, or sign up for programs. She knows all the kids who come to Story Time and is cheering for every one of them as they grow older, finish school, and establish themselves. Fields Corner has been fortunate to have Cindy Dye and we will miss her.”

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