Pat Fickett

Pat Fickett - Librarian

Pat FickettLibraries are so much more than just books. Information is shared in many ways, by computer, video, print and non-print. Those new ways are there, the films and the records, but the old ones remain, a repository of the past.

But the library can also be also the center of the community, a gathering place to share stories, experiences, to find oneself, explore all the possibilities out there in the world through books.

Pat Fickett has been the librarian at the Wilton Public-Gregg Free Library since Jan. 2011, after serving as assistant librarian at both the Brookline Public Library and Whipple Free Library in New Boston.

She was born in Hackensack, N.J., she said, “but I grew up in Hingham, Mass.” She graduated from Boston University as an occupational therapist. She moved to Brookline in 1991.

“I worked in physical rehab for 17 years, mostly with people who had spinal cord injuries. It was a good career, a great place to start. But over time I decided I wanted something different.”

Fickett has two children, twins born in 1986. “We’ve always been an outdoors family, hiking, and canoeing. I was a mentor for a teen high adventure group, some of the best years of my life, like sea-kayaking on Casco Bay, a trip that was ended abruptly, but safely, by a hurricane.”

She added, “I love teenagers. They are at such an exciting point in their lives, energizing and so much fun.”

It was when she broke her foot and couldn’t drive that she made a change in her work.  “There was an opening at the Brookline Library. I had always loved libraries and stayed there six years. Then I decided, if I was to stay in this work, I needed a degree.”

She got that degree online from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “During that time, I moved to the New Boston library because I knew the director, Sarah Chapman, and wanted to work with her. They were building a new library and it was wonderful and exciting, and then I came here (in the midst of the renovations) and said ‘yes, I can do that.’ I was so pleased to be chosen.”

Pat FickettThe Wilton library is still facing challenges, she said. “In 2016, the fire codes changed. All meeting places below grade must have sprinklers. Our children’s area is half below grade. The fire chief made a lot of suggestions and we followed all of them,” and the changes allow the area to be used by up to 25 people. “That has impacted some events but for every day it is adequate, a stop-gap solution. We can live with it for a couple of years.”

“It has to be done,” she added. “We had it evaluated and we need to raise the funds to bring a new main water line into the library” dedicated for the sprinklers. “That’s the expensive part. We are hoping the town will contribute funds for matching grants. The chief has been working with us, trained the staff, and is very informative.”

The library opened in 1908 and is considered one of the most beautiful in the state. It has undergone many renovations but there are still some things to be done.

Library“We are trying to find a conservator to do the front door. Alison Meltzer has found someone, so that will get done - she has helped us so much” Another area in need of work is the grand staircase at the front of the building. “The plaster is letting go outside of the Historical Society rooms. We had a conservator lined up to fix that, and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We received a Moose Plate grant and expect the work to be done this winter.”

She is now working with the high school librarian on field trips to the library. “We need to support each other. If children haven’t been raised in a library, they are missing something. We’ve always done the younger children’s field trips.”

The library has applied for two grants through the American Recovery Act through IMLS and NH State Library. One has supplied Citizen Science Kits, ways for people to explore areas such as birds, geology, the forests, weather, soil and water. That project is in cooperation with the Conservation Commission. The other is a community space program with the Second Congregational Church. The library will rent the parish hall for programs.

“We want to restart the Wilton Folk Café, since we can’t hold it here. We will learn in December if we have been awarded the grant.”

Fickett will be retiring in May. “It’s hard to leave but the pandemic has taught me I need to be close to my family. We missed a whole year and I don’t want that to happen again.” Her daughter is in California and her son in Colorado “and she may end up there.

“This is such a wonderful place,” she said. “Our trustees are so supportive and knowledgeable, and the staff is wonderful. I have a great team.”

But there is a grandchild out west. “And I’m past the age when I can retire.”

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