B y Jaime Thomas
A librarian, jeweler, farmer, graphic designer, justice of the peace and even an ordained minister—Beth Kashner is a Jill of all trades.
But after serving the Pawlet community for nearly six years, she will wrap up her time as the public library’s director and librarian this Friday.
The decision wasn’t an easy one and comes “bittersweet,” she said, but the library could no longer support her financial needs. Based on feedback she’s received and comments from others, she will be sorely missed.
“I’ll really miss her. We just think the world of Beth and appreciate her work,” Trustee Glenn Munson said. He explained the important part Kashner played in updating the library as the digital age has brought major changes to a library’s role.
“Beth really brought the library into the modern age. This is an important distinction,” he said.
Kashner started the position with a long-term goal to automate the library; it’s now 95 percent automated.
“Beth was smart enough to understand this right as she went along,” Munson said. “She was going along and just doing these things; I wasn’t aware of how extensive her activities were.”
In addition to modernizing the library’s function, Kashner said she weeded the collection, “which was desperately needed,” and moved the catalog online. She also brought more programs in through the years, to make the library into more of an all-encompassing community center.
She said her biggest accomplishments have been art shows, the library’s annual holiday market and grant writing.
Munson said Kashner has also served as a “wonderful” manager, a feat he said is really important.
“She’s also such a social animal—she knows everyone in town. Always really especially attentive to children, and that was her greatest pleasure,” he said.
She confirmed this and said she’ll most miss her patrons and the children to whom she regularly read.
“This has been my home away from home,” she said emotionally on Thursday. “I’m going to leave knowing it’s in good hands.”
But leaving the full-time position does not mean she will be idle—Kashner and her family sell meat and eggs at a farmers market, and she sells handmade jewelry. She has weddings to officiate this summer and has three degrees—commercial and graphic design, natural science and library certification—under her belt to pursue.
Additionally, there’s one simple pleasure she’s looking forward to enjoying.
“I’ll actually be able to read a whole book,” she said with a laugh, explaining that though friends think she spends much of her time reading, she hasn’t gotten through more than a book review in six years.
Kashner plans to continue being “very much a part of the town” and to participate in the library’s goings-on, and said she was very grateful to have worked with the community.
“I can’t even tell you how much of a pleasure it was,” she said.
Munson said he understands she wants to pursue other avenues in her life but reiterated how vital she was to the library.
“She’s proud of the work she’s done, and rightfully so. I think that our library was really fortunate to have her in this particular time in history.”