Rockville Public Library's 'Mrs. Z.' receives prestigious award

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Rockville - posted Fri., May. 27, 2011
Rockville Public Library's head of children's services Shahla Zarinejad holds the prestigious Faith Hektoen Award. Photo by Steve Smith.
Rockville Public Library's head of children's services Shahla Zarinejad holds the prestigious Faith Hektoen Award. Photo by Steve Smith.

For 20 years, local children have come to know Rockville Public Library’s head of children’s services, Shahla Zarinejad – or simply “Mrs. Z” – as the sweet, caring lady who not only promotes reading, but who brings fun to the library.

She was recently honored for her tireless efforts by the Connecticut Library Association when she was given the Faith Hektoen Award at the annual conference in Stamford.

The Faith Hektoen Award is given annually by the Children’s Section of the Connecticut Library Association to recognize the efforts of an individual or group that has made an impact on library services to children in Connecticut at the local, regional, or state level. Developed in 1979, the award is named for Faith Hektoen, who served for more than 20 years as the first state consultant for children’s services.

“This award brings your spirit up,” Zarinejad said. “It makes you feel good. I always got appreciation from parents and children, but to get recognized by the association is a good feeling.”

Zarinejad said she would like to find more innovative ways to make the library a part of the daily lives of parents and their children.

She said she most enjoys the chance to provide local children, especially those that are disadvantaged ones, with things to do when they're not in school.

“Some kids in this town have nothing,” she said. “They don't have theatres, they don't have much to do at the parks. I like to bring entertainment programs – puppet shows, magic shows, animals, snakes, pigs – so the kids can come here to see the museum or science or magic."

The programs, she said, are incentive to get young children to read.

"By bringing more programs, that is encouragement for kids to come, get familiar with the library, and read," she said.

Zarinejad said she is working to schedule a lot of those programs for the upcoming summer.

Zarinejad said she has always employed the philosophy of thinking of the library as more of a community center – something she said she sees libraries everywhere transforming into.

"The library is not just books nowadays," she said. "It's a lot of other things - computers, community center, a place for meetings," she said. "I want to see more of that. I'd like to bring more things that are not already in the area."

Before Rockville, Zarinejad spent five years as the children's librarian at Windsor Locks Public Library.

Zarinejad said she has no plans to do anything but her job in Rockville for the foreseeable future.

“I've had opportunities to go to other libraries, and I didn't go,” she said.

For more information about children's programs at Rockville Public Library, visit www.rockvillepubliclibrary.org.


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