Kelcy Boles is the new Bethel Library Director Rose Lincoln /Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — On Halloween, new Bethel Library Director Kelcy Boles, of Bethel, will be on Broad Street, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. “I’ll be wearing my own clothes, but also have a crystal ball, tarot cards, and big reading glasses. My frizzy hair, helps, too” said the Harry Potter fan who will dress as Professor Trelawney from the popular series. Of course, she’ll be passing out books, too.

Starting the Harry Potter series as a second grader, is what first drew Boles to the world of books and libraries. Her mother read the first chapter of the first book to her. Boles’ went on to read the books over and over.  Years later, on a trip across Ireland, where her family was living, Boles read the last book to her mother, who had become a fan, too and was driving. “It was a full circle moment,” she said.

The 31-year-old has hit the ground running. Starting, just over a month ago on Sept. 19, Boles listed her many plans, some already in place. She will write a column in the Bethel Citizen with the help of patrons and volunteers. In November, she’ll offer a “take and make” craft using weeded magazines that participants will re-purpose and return as collages or scrap books. Some will be displayed at the library.

She has talked to Kate Webb, of Bethel Arts and Music, about turning some of the first-floor wall space into an art gallery. Another idea is to create a community quilt with the help of library trustee, Donna Gillis, possibly linking it to Martin Luther King Day. Said Boles, “There is a history of using quilts to mark the Underground Railroad and the sanctuary spaces. I think the library is a sanctuary space. I think that would be a good way to advertise that’s what we are now.”

“I do think this library is small for serving a vibrant community, which I think Bethel really is…hopefully in the future there might be room for expanding this space,” said Boles. In the meantime, she looks forward to partnering with the historical society and other businesses to borrow their space for programming.

Boles received her undergraduate degree in law and philosophy at University College, Dublin. Her master’s degree in publishing is from Kingston Upon Thames in the UK. Her family moved from Salem, Massachusetts to Ireland when she was 10; her dad is Irish. Before arriving in Bethel, she lived in Hawaii for five years, where she got much of her library experience volunteering at the Hilo, a state-run library and at bookstores. There were just two main libraries on either side of her Hawaiian island. Boles was drawn back to this part of the world partly because quaint libraries are everywhere.


“I have always loved books, it’s been a great love of my life.” Author, Margaret Atwood is one of her favorite authors, “I love her commentary on women, mostly. Some of her literature can come up as very feminist as well as dystopian. When you look at the world that we are living in, and we carry on in a particular way, seeing how she thinks the world will look if we continue as we are, I think is very interesting.” Boles is also a fan of magical realism.

Boles expressed appreciation for volunteers like Jessica Jolley, of Bethel, who is helping with  barcoding updates to a new system called Polaris that requires touching all of the 10-13,000 books in the catalogue.

The library sells books in the Book Shed, just behind the library. It’s open during library hours and is on an honor system, although you can go inside the library if you need change. Boles is working with Better World Books a company that will pay the library 15% of proceeds for any books that she sends them. They will donate what doesn’t sell.

A bulletin board in the Bethel Library is the place for forgotten bookmarks. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen


Another of Boles’ first projects at the library will be to turn a disorganized room on the second level into a community space. “I don’t think it’s going to be inclusionary or exclusionary of anyone. Just whatever the community sees fit for the space,” said Boles. A group of volunteers from Telstar High School will start the renovation on Nov. 8, led by Lyndsey Smith, Boles’ Bethel roommate.

As you exit the library, a shelf on the right holds several books that have been banned in other libraries. The sign says, “We Read Banned Books,” Asked if she expects pushback, Boles responded, “I think this community is a welcoming one and I hope I’m proved right”

Time management is her greatest challenge. “I have a wealth of ideas… I want to accomplish most of the things that I have ideas for. I’ve had people who have said, we’ve lived here for five years and never once set foot in the library. I want to change that. I hope everybody who lives here wants to come here and feels welcome here.”

Halloween details: The Bethel Library will partner with the nearby historical museums, accepting trick-or-treaters from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

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