Neighbors: Beloved children’s librarian begins new chapter

  • Retiring Children’s Librarian Kay Lyons reacts to the gift of tickets to Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando, presented by Karen Larabee, left, president of the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Retiring Children’s Librarian Kay Lyons and her husband, Rick Roy, enjoyed a sendoff at the library last week. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZA group gathered on the lawn of the Greenfield Public Library to honor retiring Children’s Librarian Kay Lyons. She retired on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZRetiring Children’s Librarian Kay Lyons, right, gets an “air hug” at the Library. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • ANITA FRITZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/24/2021 6:31:42 AM

Good morning, neighbor.

Well, longtime Greenfield Public Library Children’s Librarian Kay Lyons retired Friday. 

Last week, 25 to 30 staff, family, friends, trustees and Foundation members gathered for “air hugs” as they said emotional “good-byes.” Terry and VannaRuggles arrived in costume, and Kay was thrilled with her gifts, Library Foundation member Karen Larabee said. Friends of the Greenfield Public Library has always supported Kay in all of her programs and events, and members were there for her outdoor retirement celebration.

“We want to thank Kay for her enthusiasm and the dedication that she has shown throughout her 27 years as the Greenfield Public Library children’s librarian,” the Friends wrote in a statement that was read on the front lawn of the library on Main Street. “Kay, you will be missed and we are sad to see you go but excited for you as you begin your ‘new chapter.’”

As a token of their appreciation for Kay sharing her “extraordinary talents” with children and adults in the community, members of the Friends presented her with two passes to Universal Studios, home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, along with a Harry Potter cookbook.

“Enjoy your retirement, you certainly have earned it,” the Friends said.

She certainly does.

For almost 30 years, Kay has journeyed with children to Wonderland, Narnia, Hogwarts and so many other places. 

Kay tells me she and her husband Rick Roy will now take some trips of their own.

“I’ll never forget the joy I’ve known, though,” she said.

A Maine native in her mid-60s, she got a bachelor’s degree in theater, and if you’ve ever watched Kay in action, you’d agree she must have been at the top of her class. Her background inspired just about everything she did at the library and for children.

“I’m an actor first, and that has influenced the way I’ve been a children’s librarian,” She said recently with a laugh when she announced her retirement. “I wore a children’s librarian costume by day all these years, but every now and then I put another one on and the kids loved it.”

Kay is, for sure, a people person, and children are drawn to her, which is a great quality for a children’s librarian.

“I found I had a way with children,” she explained. “I eventually had two of my own, and while my first husband and I were in Colorado and he was going to grad school, I raised the kids and stopped doing things professionally for a while.”

She said she’s had a lot of fun as children’s librarian over the years. One of the best parts of her job over the past three decades, she said, has been “letting my hair down” and having fun with children. “Once a little boy came in and with a serious face asked if it was ‘OK’ if he played with our trucks,” referring to the Fire Department’s trucks in the neighboring lot. “He thought we lived in the house and the fire trucks in the back were ours.”

On another occasion, two young children rode their bikes to the library and while they were there, a thunderstorm started.

“I told them I’d call their grandmother to come and get them, and they begged me not to because she didn’t know they were gone,” she said. “We had an accidental crowd during the thunderstorm, so I told scary stories. I always love an opportunity, an excuse to entertain.”

Kay and Rick bought a trailer and Subaru last summer, and intend to travel in retirement. She said they’re not “RVers,” but like to stay in national parks for a night or two at campsites.

“We want to get to know the country,” she told me, and they’ll take all COVID precautions. She said they’ll probably visit Nova Scotia, where her father and his family were from originally. And, she said, they’ll definitely explore her native Maine.

“I’ve gotten to know so many people,” Kay said. “I don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but I know that it will have something to do with theater, arts and people.”

The Greenfield Recorder has covered Kay and her projects and programs many times over the years, and it has always been a pleasure. My colleague, photographer Paul Franz, has taken some great photos of her in and out of costume. We’re definitely going to miss her and her joyful spirit. I wish you and Rick nothing but the best, Kay. I hope you both enjoy every moment of your next chapter.

One more thing

If anyone out there has a Turners Falls High School or Greenfield High School yearbook (any year) that you’d be willing to part with, Stearl “Butch” Wickline could use them for a project he’s working on, for more details, call him at 413-863-9297 or 413-768-8830.

Senior Reporter Anita Fritz grew up in Franklin County after moving from Spokane, Wash., when she was just a few weeks old. She covers Greenfield and does regional and COVID-19 reporting for the Greenfield Recorder.

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