Annie Reuter loves lots about life. But her 2 absolute favorite things are children and books.
When she walked into the Ridgefield Library 2 decades ago — to start her new job as children’s librarian — she told herself: “This is where I’m supposed to be.”
But life got even better.
In 1997 she moved to the Westport Public Library. Between the library’s support for kids, Westport parents’ championing of children and her own over-the-top enthusiasm, it was a match made in library heaven.
Annie did not major in library science, or children’s literature. Her degree was in human services. Before Ridgefield she worked as a court advocate and rape crisis counselor, was an occupational therapist, and — this comes close — ran a nursery school.
But none of that compares to the joy of being around children all day, introducing them to reading.
“Children’s librarians open up worlds, through stories, imagination, play, language and rhymes,” Annie says.
Working with kids gives her a chance to “go back and join children as they suspend reality,” she adds. “To a child, Winnie the Pooh is as real as a policeman. There’s something magical about that.”
Most youngsters come into the children’s library without any idea what they’re looking for. Annie talks with them, finds out their interests, and steers them to just the right books.
“When you see them open a book, and open up a new world, that’s magical too,” she says.
Kids grow up fast — we all know that. Their tastes move quickly from Dr. Seuss to Harry Potter to Kurt Vonnegut to John Irving. (I wish.) But many come back upstairs to visit Annie. She remembers them all.
They may be big 7th graders — or, now, bigger college students — yet Annie still sees them “as a child in Story Time.”
Next month, Annie retires. She looks forward to playing with her 3 “delicious” grandchildren, traveling — and perhaps doing something at the library in Southbury, where she lives. (“It’s been quite a commute,” she says diplomatically.)
Annie will miss “the babies, the children, the staff and the town.” She calls Westport’s energy “irreplaceable.”
“This is a town that absolutely champions children,” she says. “There is a love of reading everywhere.”
Kids, she notes, “can’t go to the library unless grownups bring them. And here, they always do.”
(A reception honoring Annie Reuter is set for Saturday, December 10, 10:30-11:30 a.m. in the Higgins Room. All Westport parents — and, more importantly, youngsters — are invited.)