Milford Library's new assistant director is a familiar face

Suzanne Harrison-Thomas, long a fixture in the Milford Library Children's Department, has been named the library's assistant director.

Suzanne Harrison-Thomas, long a fixture in the Milford Library Children's Department, has been named the library's assistant director.

Brian Gioiele/Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Librarian was not among Suzanne Harrison-Thomas' job dreams when she first joined Milford Library as a page during her college days. 

But the library grew on her, she says, and 24 years later, Harrison-Thomas was recently named the operation’s assistant director. 

“I’m excited but also heartbroken,” said Harrison-Thomas, who leaves her long-standing role as head of the children’s department to take the new job. “I have loved my job in the children’s department.” 

Harrison-Thomas has been a fixture in the children’s department for two decades, taking the position only four years after joining the library as a page, a job for high school or college students to stack shelves a couple hours a week. 

“I answered an ad to be a page when I was college,” recalled Harrison-Thomas, who grew up in Milford. “This was just a job while I was in college … but I really loved the people I worked with, and I loved working in the children’s library.” 

She said she always wanted to be a teacher. She majored in English in college, where she began to feel her career path would take into writing or journalism. But that changed once she began her library job. 

“I never thought of it as a career option, but while here, what I found is that this was a nice balance for me … there’s books, writing, time with kids, kids programming … this really encompasses everything I really love.” 

She then returned to college and obtained her master’s degree. Once complete, the children’s department director’s post opened, and she jumped at the chance. 

"The opening was there right when I finished my master’s degree, and here I am,” she said. 

Library Director Christine Angeli said she was “thrilled” to have Harrison-Thomas take the assistant director job. 

"Suzanne has led our Children's Department for the last 20 years, and, under her leadership, the Children’s Department has undergone a major renovation, increased the number and breadth of programs offered, and built strong partnerships with our schools and local child care agencies,” Angeli said. 

Angeli said Harrison-Thomas has been a constant presence in the lives of generations of Milford families, nurturing a love of reading, learning and community service in countless children. 

“We look forward to having her in her new role as she helps plan and develop new library services for all residents,” Angeli added. 

In her years, Harrison-Thomas said the library has transitioned from just a building to take out books to a community gathering place – with programming for adults and children. 

Harrison-Thomas says she moves to her new post with countless fond memories of her years in the children's department – one being the development of the summer reading program in partnership with the Milford school system. 

But what makes her smile most is seeing people she once saw as youngsters or young mothers return with children or grandchildren, respectively. 

“Women I remember as young mothers are now coming back with their grandbabies, people coming in who I remember coming as a child … that’s what makes me so proud,” she said. “I am proud people have such positive memories of the library. I’ve had that opportunity to come back to the community I live in. It’s a great feeling."

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact