Life Beyond the Norfolk Library
Interns See Their Jobs As a Passport to Success
By Peter Vosburgh
In 1997 librarian Louise Schimmel and the staff of the Norfolk Library were looking for ways to involve Norfolk’s teenagers in their library. To that end, they decided to offer employment by having one or two students help out with peripheral tasks. Ads placed in the Owl and posters around town attracted applicants. Respondents were screened by their interests in books.
Paid a small stipend, interns serve on weekends, after school and during vacations, bringing them into contact with members of the community. They also gain firsthand knowledge of the workings and content of a state-famous library. Typical duties include finding and putting away books and DVDs, and sometimes toys from the children’s room. They lay out the newspapers, print documents for patrons and help catalog cartons for the summer book sale. More recently, duties have evolved to include processing electronic membership cards, arranging for inter-library loans and helping patrons download e-books and audiobooks.
What becomes of these interns after they move on? The following brief biographies track the progress of some of these teenagers beyond life at the Norfolk Library.
The first volunteer was Pierce Graham-Jones. After working five summers at the library, he went on to earn a degree at Middlebury College, where he was an assistant at the college library. Graham-Jones then became a consultant with The Monitor Group in Boston, eventually opening up their Dubai office. After writing broadband strategy for the FCC, including a health plan, he spent three years in Washington with the Department of Health and Human Services. He now is vice president at a California health service software firm.
Next to serve was Marshall Dougherty. Having graduated from UConn, he is now a data integrity specialist at The Travelers in Hartford. He was followed by Daniel Auclair, who interned at the library for two years. He then earned two degrees at Villanova University and now works in computer engineering. His jobs have ranged from Boston to Wisconsin. He is currently employed by Google in California.
During his library stint, Garrett Herzig’s prowess in theatrical lighting led to a job at the Warner Theatre in Torrington. He went on to earn a master’s degree at Boston’s Emerson College, where he now teaches lighting design.
Lior Trestman, after three years on the front desk, is now in his third year at UConn. He has already started applying his studies in biomedical engineering to helping the needy. He raised funding to start an NGO that took him to orphanages in Cameroon last summer. He will work with children in India for three months this coming summer.
Isaiah Barel-Dore served the library from 2003 to 2007 and went on to major in economics at Suffolk University in Boston. After a job in real estate management and as an acquisition analyst at a Boston firm, he is now an analyst for Sonos, a wireless speaker company, where he was cited for being a top 5 percent performer.
Lily Johnston served several summers at the front desk. She has since worked at an elephant farm in Thailand and at her mother’s nonprofit for the blind in Ethiopia. Multitalented, she has studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and is now learning massage therapy in Austin, Tex.
Matt Papanek has become a multi-activity community stalwart beginning with three years at the library desk. Since graduating from NW Community College he has focused on a career in music. He currently leads his own rock band, Ibis, playing keyboard and vocals. The band performs at various local venues, including Infinity Hall, where he is also a hospitality manager.
Andrew Thomson, after majoring in composition at Ithaca College, was a featured Irish piper soloist with the New Haven Symphony. He has composed pieces for Chorus Angelicus and the NW Regional Band and is now busy as a composer. Michael Scopino received his degree from UConn and is now a freelance designer in Boston.
Amelia Denny is now covering the front desk on weekends. While in school at NW Regional she received four years of fire marshal training. Denny has been captain of the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department Explorers and Troop B Police Cadets. She will soon be attending the University of New Haven, which has granted her two scholarships. Xavier Rodriguez, now also working the front desk on weekends, will pursue a degree in engineering after graduating from NW Regional.
Seven years after moving on, Barel-Dore credits the intern experience with instilling a respect for hard work and responsibility. “I attribute much of my strong career to date to working in the library at such a young age with commitments and responsibilities,” he said. “The library was a place that was so treasured in the community. It was a great building block for the rest of my career.”