Connecticut Library Association recognizes Southington children's librarian

Published on Wednesday, 2 May 2018 21:18


SOUTHINGTON - Molly Virello, the Southington Library’s children’s librarian, has received the Connecticut Library Association’s 2017 Special Achievement Award for her department’s programming.

Virello, a self-described “hardcore librarian nerd,” was nominated by Sue Smayda, executive director of the library, with letters of recommendation from Cindy Hall, her department head, co-worker Lynn Pawloski and several local parents.

She discovered that she won the award last Tuesday.

“It was really awesome and amazing to see that all of my hard work is appreciated,” said Virello.

“It is easy to get swept up in Molly’s boundless energy, enthusiasm, and drive,” said Pawloski in her letter. “As our resident pun-master, we have dubbed her our Library CONtessa, modern-day Renaissance woman, and stealer of storytime hearts.”

“As Molly’s direct supervisor, I am extraordinarily lucky to be the beneficiary of her creativity and vision,” wrote Hall in her letter. “Molly brings her many passions to life here at the library. Her interest in graphic novels and cosplay changed our simple Free Comic Book Day to an all-out Comic-Con for kids, teens and adults. Her enthusiasm spread throughout the staff who joined Molly in presenting the programs and dressing up as superheroes at ComicCon and Ladies at Ren Faire.

“Molly always brings in family and friends to volunteer, making sure that we have more heroes and fairies than you can wave a magic wand at. Molly is also one of the most popular storytime librarians we’ve ever had. She has legions of followers who attend her morning and evening programs and give her rave reviews.”

“She always makes my highly spirited child feel part of the group, never scolds her for showing her spirit and allows her to shine in her individuality while learning with her peers,” wrote Emily Pomykala.

To receive to award, a librarian must demonstrate a significant contribution to library programs or policies. In Virello’s case, her biggest contributions were the Comic-Con and Renaissance Faire that she helps organize.

“When we held our first Comic-Con in 2016, it was the largest attended program that the library has had since it opened,” said Virello. “We had almost 1,000 people, which is no small feat for a library of our size. Our Renaissance Faire was also really well attended. In the six hours it was open we brought in 600 people.”

“I was really happy to see that Molly got this award,” said Smayda. “I felt that she really deserved to be recognized. Both of the events Molly spearheaded have had positive and significant impact on our town and have broadened many people’s idea of what our library has to offer.”

Virello said that her goal as a librarian is to “introduce the community to something different.”

“We want people to see that we’re about more than just hoarding books,” she said. “With my programs and with our entire department we try to think outside of the box. On June 2, we will have a mermaids and dinosaurs program where I will be dressed as a mermaid and doing storytime and yoga and and where children can work on excavation tables. ”

Virello will be furthering her professional development at the American Library Association’s Partnership Mentor Program in New Orleans the weekend of June 23.

“Librarians from all over the world will be there; it’s like Comic-Con for librarians,” said Virello.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Southington Herald on Wednesday, 2 May 2018 21:18. Updated: Wednesday, 2 May 2018 21:20.