Meet Me in Medford | Librarian Sam Sednek
Updated: Jan 17
by 4Squares Residential Group in Partnership with Judi 411
“The new library is coming! The new library is coming!”
Similar to how Paul Revere rode up High Street, proclaiming the British were upon us, the Medford community is a-buzz, anticipating the unveiling of the new Medford Public Library.
Which is why the 4Squares Team turned to one of Medford’s favorite librarians, Sam Sednek, for the inside scoop on what we can look forward to when the doors open in November.
Sam, thank you for joining in the conversation today. I have to tell you: I'll never forget the first time I met you. I was with my younger daughter, Zoe, who was bashful to ask where to find a particular book. True to form, she wasn't revealing many details. You asked her if it was a "pink fuzzy book," which I thought was the best ice-breaker ever.
My ice-breaker is not as colorful, but here goes: What inspired you to become a librarian?
While I've always been a reader, I never thought of a librarian as an actual job. So I went through undergrad as an English major, joined the Peace Corps, and served for two years in Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho, in Southern Africa as a high school English and Science teacher. One of my main projects was building community libraries. Our community's school had a library donated in the 80s but had been locked up and full of deteriorating, rotting books. We weeded the books, obtained new ones, painted the space, and encouraged kids to visit.
It was magical to see what having new space can do for our community. We had kids who walked long distances to school, and the Library was a warm space, a refuge for students to study before classes started. After I served there, I knew "librarian" was the job that I wanted. Making sure that there's a good space for all sorts of people, finding people the right kinds of books, ensuring access to information and technology --- all of that was important to me. So I came back, went to grad school at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana, and earned a master's degree in Library and Information Science, and the rest is history.
So how did you end up in Medford? What brought you here?
I joined the Medford Public Library at the end of 2013 as Youth Services Director and rapidly fell in love with the community. Medford embraces fun and new ideas, which has made my job in rebuilding and expanding Youth Services so fulfilling.
It's been an inspiring run, and of course, serving on the building committee for the new Library has been thrilling. I keep getting pictures from there, and it's clear that the design intentionally gives space for everyone. If you desire a quiet study space, we've got that for you. If it's wintertime, you'd like to bring your cabin-fevered kids in to learn a new craft or enjoy an activity; we have that space and equipment for you in the new Library. It's designed as a central space in the community that serves us all. So my challenge is for folks who think, "I don't ever use a library," come into the new one and see what we can find of interest for you.
At the same time, don't hesitate to ask for what you'd like to see in the new Library. If you can dream it, you can ask for it. Come in and pitch us ideas! We want the Library to be the place where everyone gathers.
What are some of the events we can look forward to when the new Library opens?
Once we determine it's safe to do so, we will bring back some of our old favorites like Lego Club, Art Club, and Science Club. We intend to have all of our book clubs and an afterschool family storytime, as well as our baby and toddler times. Matt Heaton plans to come back for sing-a-long, and we're hoping to open the Makerspace to kids so that we can work on Robotics and 3D printing.
The program I'm most excited about involves the new Library's kitchen, where I'd like to host cooking classes for kids. The classes will be science-oriented, and in this case, it'll also be entertaining on a couple of levels. The kids will have a good time, but what's so amusing is that everyone who knows me understands I don't really cook, so when I say "science-oriented," I do mean it will be an "experiment." The children will make the edible things, and mine will be the problem. But I'm so excited because it'll be fun to incorporate math and science lessons into the cooking.
On the adult library services side, we're working on circulating board games, as in board games, you can borrow and return like you would books. Same for tools! We recently bought a stud finder. So if you need tools but don't have the space or interest to keep them, you can borrow them! You can check out a bike stand to fix your bike and then return it when you're done. We're also working alongside the Community Gardens folks to create a seed library for aspiring gardeners.
You know how to bring fun for all inside the Library. What about outside? What are some of your favorite places to visit in Medford?
My favorite place in Medford is the Library, and that's where I tend to be. But it's also right next door to my other favorite spot, Colleen's Ice Cream! Breakfast, lunch, dinner…ice cream it is! I also love the Fells, and I'm weirdly obsessed with the Watchtower that overlooks Route 93. I've never been up to the Watchtower when it was open, but I love to hike up and around it.
West Medford is another favorite neighborhood, from the West Medford Community Center to all restaurants there, like Bistro 5, Simple Fare, and El Vaquero Taqueria. I've also enjoyed our time in the Library's temporary space on Boston Avenue and the stores nearby like the Danish Pastry House, Espresso Pizza. or Tamper for coffee. What's unique about Medford is that every neighborhood is a little bit different.
What would you tell someone considering a move to Medford? What's great about living here?
So I would say I, as a librarian, I'd ask them what they want in their community. And then, frankly, you can find it all in Medford. For those looking toward schools, I love the different school communities in Medford. There are fantastic teachers and outstanding administrators who work to ensure that the kids have everything they need.
If you want to be within walking distance to the corner store, then South Medford or Medford Square are the places for you. If you wish for more yard space and the suburban feel, plus a cool private pond next door, you can live up in Fulton Heights. If you're more transit-oriented, then also remember that the Green Line Extension is nearly here.
Similar to the new Library, there's something in Medford for everyone. Chevalier Theatre has terrific programs and concerts scheduled. Families can always find an activity via the Medford Family Network, which is an absolute gem and unlike any other community organization I've ever seen. Whether you're single, a married family of four, or a retiree, our community offers living space, accessibility, and amenities for you no matter your stage of life.
What are you looking forward to most once the new Medford Public Library opens its doors? Check out the virtual tour of the MPL for inspiration as we count down to completion!
Photo Credits: Sam Sednek as a dinosaur, courtesy of Sam Sednek. Book Covers, our librarians packing up, new MPL library ceiling - all via MPL Facebook.
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