COLUMN: Adieu, Queen Nancy of the Children’s Kingdom

Once upon a time Queen Nancy lived in a fairytale land called the Nelson Public Library.

Children’s librarian Nancy Radonich’s Jammy Jamborees enthralled kids and their stuffies for decades.

Children’s librarian Nancy Radonich’s Jammy Jamborees enthralled kids and their stuffies for decades.

Once upon a time Queen Nancy lived in a fairytale land called the Nelson Public Library. There, she spun stories into gold in her own special corner of the Library. For the Adoring Public, especially those with Children, Nancy held a very special place on the Elf Shelf of their library-going hearts.

Queen Nancy’s library life was one of rainbows and unicorns there were quite a number of them in the Children’s Kingdom, over which she was benevolent ruler until the day she announced her retirement to the distant land of Endless Vacation.

Sierra Dante, who in ancient times frolicked in Nancy’s storytimes as a Wee One, loved her Queen so much that she made sure to bring her own children to the Castle.

“Going to the Nelson Library was a weekly ritual for my family when I was a kid, and I now continue that tradition with my three kids,” she said in an interview for ShElf Magazine. “When Nancy reads aloud to my children at story time, her voice takes me back. I recall really loving one special evening story time in the late ‘80s where we kids all wore our pajamas and brought a stuffed animal boy, did I like that when I was seven or eight!”

Queen Nancy’s pajama-and-stuffie camp-out storytimes in the Library’s Enchanted Wood were just one of many programs beloved by The Children.

The Queen loved all of her subjects just as she loved the Library, and so she made sure that even the tiniest of babies discovered The Magical World of Reading. Joanne Harris, Retired Queen of Teen and Literacy Services, welcomed Nancy to the Land of Endless Vacation, but not without a gossamer shimmer of nostalgia.

“Nancy and I worked together for many years in literacy-related programming for kids and families,” she told this ShElf reporter. “Her commitment to the library was truly a labour of love and her skills were boundless. She would share songs and laughter with families in Mother Goose and could put the perfect book in a child’s hands later that day.

“Her kindness towards families, her sense of fun and her creative ideas were all a true inspiration to me. It’s wonderful to think of the many generations that have shared in Nancy’s love of books and literacy.”

Queen Nancy was especially welcoming to Newcomers to the Kingdom.

“We moved to Nelson when our daughter was four, and I desperately sought ways to connect with families when we stumbled on Nancy’s Storytime,” Mother-of-a-Teenager Catherine Brochhagen reported. “We sang, we danced. There were felt storyboards and a mouse named Stanley. Now, Johanna can’t get enough books —she’s always reading! Storytime lead to Summer Reading Clubs and so many other activities.”

One day a girl who was visiting from Chicago proclaimed that the Nelson Public Library “is the best library in the world!” She said “I’ve travelled a lot and spent a lot of time in libraries, and this is the Best Library Ever.” For Nancy, Storytime Queen, pajama-wearer, piñata-maker, cake-baker, foundation-layer for life-long Library Love, it was one of many shining moments.

Joan Exley, coordinator of Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, was quick to sing Nancy’s praises, accompanied with appropriate Mother Goose fingerplays.

“Nancy’s work on the Literacy Advisory Committee was so valuable,” she said, making a heart shape. “She will be sorely missed at Mother Goose and in Storytime. I remember her spreading fairy dust on my kids at story time, and my oldest is now graduating from university!

“Those early foundations take our kids and families a long way.”

It may seem as if Nancy is riding off on her unicorn to a Land Far, Far Away, but she’ll always be with us. That’s because every Small Child in the Kingdom who was given the Gift of Book Love at the hands of Queen Nancy became a Grown Up who loves books ensuring that the Magic Never Ends.

Nancy Radonich’s last day is June 30, after 34 years at the library and we’ll miss her! Welcome Avi Silberstein, incoming King of Children’s Services. Columnist Anne DeGrace is the adult services coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to nelsonlibrary.ca.

 

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