Montague appoints new library director



Staff Writer
Published: 9/22/2021 4:44:11 PM

MONTAGUE — Library Director Linda Hickman has a successor to take under her wing, following the appointment of Caitlin Kelley.

Kelley, who will begin as library director on Oct. 18, was appointed by the Montague Public Libraries Trustees and introduced to the community during a Selectboard meeting on Monday. A veteran librarian with a history of collaborating with Montague Library Trustee Margot Malachowski, Kelley said she wants to weave herself into the fabric of a town she’s loved for years.

Hickman, who has been working with Montague Public Libraries for 24 years, announced her decision to retire earlier this summer. Although she had planned to retire at the end of September, she will stay longer to spend two weeks training Kelley.

Around a decade ago, then-Hampshire College undergraduate student Kelley and a friend tucked themselves away in a quiet corner of the Montague Book Mill. In the midst of discovering a love for library science that she’d pursue in graduate school, she pulled her mind away from homework to fantasize with her friend about one day working at the Montague Center Public Library. Fast-forward to 2021, following library positions in Nantucket, Springfield and Vernon, Conn., and Kelley sees her new opportunity as the fruition of an old premonition.

“I’m really excited to be working back in the valley,” Kelley said.

Aside from her time at Hampshire College, Kelley’s Pioneer Valley connection includes work with the library trustees in Easthampton. Her most recent occupation was her two-and-a-half-year service as assistant library director at Rockville Public Library in Vernon, Conn. Prior to that, she had jobs as a reference librarian at the Nantucket Atheneum and as branch supervisor for Springfield City Library, where she worked alongside Malachowski.

“When her resume came in, she was pretty quickly identified as someone who seemed to have an extraordinary basis of experience and trajectory toward a role like this,” Town Administrator Steve Ellis, who served on the search committee, said of Kelley at Monday’s Selectboard meeting.

The Montague Public Library Trustees appointed Kelley after an interview process that began in early August. She said her new role is something she feels ready to take on.

“I’ve been in libraries for a decade,” Kelley said. “I think my background and experience really prepared me.”

She added that while she may be a newcomer to the tight-knit community, the collaborative nature of the job will be a great help.

“I also have a really wonderful support network to help make sure I don’t stumble,” Kelley said. “This is a field where we aren’t competing against each other.”

Starting out, Kelley said she’ll take a back seat to other staff members, learning “who does what” and “what gaps there are in services.” There are three library branches in Turners Falls, Millers Falls and Montague Center.

“Then, I’m going to sit back and synthesize it all,” she said.

After getting acclimated, Kelley said she hopes to crack down on “some serious renovations” or potentially consider erecting a new building in the “very long term.”

“We want to make sure that people are getting the resources they need,” she said. “Being a library director is all about assessing and reassessing.”

This desire blends well with preceding Library Director Linda Hickman’s recent efforts to maintain facilities and preserve historical materials.

“We’re very excited to have her build on what Linda Hickman has done for the libraries,” Malachowski said at the Selectboard meeting.

“I can tell you that Linda Hickman was also very supportive in her conversations with myself and with individual trustees relative to this particular appointment,” Ellis said. “I’m very excited that the trustees have made this decision.”

Kelley reciprocated the excitement.

“I feel great,” Kelley said. “I can’t stop smiling.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or

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