Yes, that’s the new children’s librarian, Samantha Quintas, who added yoga classes to the program. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Samantha Quintas has a tattoo on her right wrist that reads “In Libris Libertas.” It translates from Latin as “In books there is freedom.”
You might say she was destined to be where she is today, as head of the children’s library at Red Bank Public Library. But it wasn’t a clear path to West Front Street.
Despite her love of books, Quintas, 24, wasn’t always so eager to master the Dewey Decimal system or spend hours re-stocking shelves. In fact, it was the latter that almost drove Quintas to find a different career.
Samantha Quintas took over as children’s librarian at Red Bank Public Library last month. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)
She was in high school and working at Sayreville Public Library. Tired of the tedium of stocking the shelves, told her boss she had had about enough.
“It was the most miserable job in the world. I tried to quit. My boss told me to get another job,” she says. But she decided to stick it out.
“Here I am eight years later and I love my job,” she says. “I guess somewhere in between that conversation and now, I fell in love with my job.”
Her passion shows. Since taking the Red Bank job last month, Quintas has instituted new programs, including children’s yoga and a pajama party-type book party, and is bringing in a bubble expert to show kids the science of bubbles. She has more ideas brewing, including one for an after-school homework help program.
Even though she’s a big girl now, and earning her master’s at Rutgers, Quintas still enjoys getting into a teen book, mostly because the plots are interesting, she says, but also so she can stay somewhat abreast of what teenagers are into these days.
“I do think I’m like a grown-up kid, and I can relate to teens a lot better,” she says.
One of her main objectives is to get that cohort more interested in reading and the library, as well as beefing up the library’s young adult section, which now takes up only a couple shelves.
“I want them to think the library is a cool place to go,” Quintas says.
Quite a blue-sky statement, right? Maybe not. It’s clear that Quintas defies the stereotypical cardigan-clad, shushing librarian and brings a fresh vibe to the library. Her ability to relate to the middle and high school crowd could prove alluring. If she gets her way, the children’s library may be seen in a completely different light.
“I want people to see the library not just as someplace to get books. I want them to see the library as an environment, and a place where you can get knowledge and joy out of being here,” she says.
But ultimately, she says, she just wants more people reading more books.
After all, that’s where the freedom is.