Milford's new library director has an eye on technology

When long-time Milford Library Director Jean Tsang announced she would retire this year, she said it was time for someone with “stronger technological skills and a fresh eye” to take over the job.

Tsang had taken the library far, and pushed vehemently over the years for more funding. But as she prepared to say good-bye, she looked to the library’s website and said she wanted those aspects of the job to get increased focus.

Improving web presence and creating a better website are among the goals of Tsang’s replacement, Christine Angeli, who took over the job. Oct. 7.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for people to find what we offer on the website,” Angeli said as she discussed her goals recently.

There are a host of offerings, from downloadable videos and databases filled with information that some library users — or would-be library patrons — are not aware of, she said. People also may not be aware of the fact that they can access much of this information at home from their computers, using their library card to tap into the resources.

Furthermore, “People are living in an age where with one click, you should be in,” Angeli said, adding that she wants to push for a more user-friendly website. She anticipates working with the city’s MIS department to help make some of that happen.

She also wants to develop a social media presence: Put the Milford Public Library on Facebook and start using Twitter to announce programs, new books and similar news.

There’s more though in terms of technology that the new library director thinks is needed to bring Milford’s library up to date.

Right now, there are only 12 computers for the public to use in a community with a population of 50,000. That’s really not enough, she said, explaining that she’d like to see that number increase.

“We have a percentage of people who come in and don’t have Internet access at home,” she said, explaining that these patrons rely on the public library to apply for jobs and gather information.

She isn’t complaining, just talking about positive change — what she was hired for. Angeli said she loves the community, one that she wasn’t terribly familiar with before taking the job.

“But everyone has been so welcoming, from the library patrons to the city officials,” she said. “I was intrigued by the city’s tag line — Small City with a Big Heart. And I’ve found it to be true.”

Angeli comes to Milford with a lifetime of experience in libraries and a lifetime of appreciation for books and the written word.

There were always books around the house growing up in New Britain, and so Angeli started life as avid reader. She remembers that as a young girl she enjoyed the Nancy Drew and Caddie Woodlawn series.

She officially entered the library world when she was still in high school, working at a page in her local library. She thought that when she went to college she would study to be a Spanish and French teacher, but she found she wasn’t as passionate about that as the library.

So she turned her sights toward the world of books and information, eventually getting her master’s degree at Southern Connecticut State University.

Angeli has worked at the Trinity College library, and before Milford’s Library Board hired her, she worked as head of circulation services and interlibrary loans at Russell Library in Middletown.

During her library career, she has worked in a children’s department and teen’s department, so her knowledge is broad.

“I love the diversity you see in the people who come into a library,” she said.

She hasn’t been here long, but Angeli has already been pulled into the city’s budget process. She said Milford’s library is not as well funded as many other libraries in the area, and while she’d like to see funding increase, she added that she is “fiscally responsible” and understands economic pressures.

But even with a budget that is smaller than surrounding communities, there are great things happening at the Milford Public Library, she said, noting that she attended a children’s program and it was packed.

She said her predecessor did a “phenomenal job” and now she’d like to use technology and other means to take the Milford Library to the next level, make it a “cornerstone” of the community.

Technology has evolved and libraries are changing accordingly, but the library will always be a vital part of a community, she said.

“There will always be a print collection,” she said. “At the same time you have to look at the needs of the community and bring in new innovations and technology to meet those needs.”

Angeli lives in Old Lyme. She and her husband have three children, ages 23, 18 and 16.