Meet the Staff

Taslima Sultana

Taslima Sultana

Junior Librarian, Burroughs-Saden Main Library

How long have you worked at BPL?  My affiliation with BPL began in 2011.    

What are your responsibilities? My responsibilities are coming up with engaging activities for ages 0-12, selecting age-appropriate books for story time, enhancing our library collection under supervision of my supervisor, promoting upcoming programs, and communicating with our patron to see what they would like us to offer and more.  I also provide Passport services at the main library. This is another responsibility that I am very passionate about. Our goal is to assist clients and to ensure a smooth passport application. I also train our employees who recently obtained their passport agency certificate. 

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library? My favorite part of my job is that I get to do various craft activities and host a story time for our juvenile patrons. Aside from this, I also do readers’ advisory for our young patrons and tell them about our free online database such as for their homework help! I like attending school outreach programs. When students visit the library as part of their class visit and later when they come to the library and identify me, this means a lot to me. They get excited to see me and would say, “Do you remember me? The other day, I came with my class.” Not to mention, I am delighted to see them coming back too! 

What is your favorite book? Answering this question is one of the more challenging ones. I have become enamored with so many children’s books since I began reading to my kids. Is Everyone Ready for Fun?; How to Count to One; We Don’t Eat Our Classmates; Why Mosquitos Buzz In People’s Ears; The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants; Two people, and One Extraordinary Friendship; and Is That Wise Pig? are the titles that immediately spring to mind. 

Favorite genre? Fiction, Realistic fiction, non-fiction, Horror, Mystery and Biography. 

Favorite food?  Being a foodie, this is another difficult question to answer. I would say Tehari, Beef Biriyani, Chicken roast, Chotpoti, Fuska, Halim, Singara, puri, Balushai sweets, Doi, any kinds of achar and the list continues.

Your hobbies? I am not sure if this counts as a hobby, but I enjoy spending time with my children and my husband. Aside from this, cooking is my passion. I can cook all day long! I enjoy arts and crafts as well as traveling and reading to my kids. 

Tell us some surprising things about yourself. I grew up in small city in Bangladesh. I used to LOVE wearing a boy outfit and back then it wasn’t very common for a girl to wear a boy outfit. So, my neighbor used to call me my dad’s boy!

Kristin Graf

Kristin Graf

Youth Services Librarian, Burroughs-Saden Main Library

How long have you worked at BPL?  This question is a lot more complicated than it should be! I worked here for two years as a page in my teens, five years as a library assistant in my twenties & thirties, and now five years as a librarian in my (redacted), so about 12 years altogether. Hmm, I guess it was only complicated if you’re bad at math.  

What are your responsibilities? I help kids and teens find the right books and resources for homework and/or pleasure; deliver story hours and craft programs; order new materials; and represent the library in visits to schools, daycares, and community events. 

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library? Having grown up in Bridgeport, I get such joy from spending my days working in a place that gave me so much comfort and delight as a kid. The best part, though, is helping our youngest patrons, whether it’s putting the right book in their hands; helping them to find the right resources for a school project; or just watching them enjoy one of our programs.   

What is your favorite book? My favorite children’s book is Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. For adult books, it’s about a hundred-way tie. Let’s just say that today, my favorites are The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (fiction) and What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool (non-fiction).

Favorite genre?  In fiction, mystery & historical fiction are perennial favorites. In non-fiction, I love psychology and social history – reading about the culture and habits behind our history really makes it come alive for me. 

Favorite food?  Cheese, potatoes, & my mom’s strawberry shortcake.

Your hobbies? Reading, writing, baking, collecting random trivia, and word puzzles.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself. I cry every time I read the Declaration of Independence. I have a wildly competitive streak for just about everything. After having rabbits for 25 years, I now find myself a perpetually surprised dog owner.  

Adam Cleri

Adam Cleri

Reference Librarian, Burroughs-Saden Main Library

How long have you worked at BPL?  Over 4 years

What are your responsibilities? I help patrons with using computers, applying for jobs, finding books, researching questions, and more every day.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library? I frequently encounter books that present ideas that are new to me, or that explore ideas I’ve already thought of but in a different way.

What is your favorite book? Paradise Lost by John Milton

Favorite genre?  Books that present a powerful & intriguing idea.

Favorite food?   Ham sandwiches with mayo, provolone or Swiss cheese, tomato, and lettuce, on a wrap or a Portuguese roll.

Your hobbies? Writing is the reason I get up in the morning.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself.  When my mother was expecting me, she and my father worked for a senior citizens’ home; in exchange, they received, in addition to a stipend, an apartment in the home. My mother went to the hospital to have me and two days later, brought me back to the home to live. Therefore, at two days old, I am the youngest person to have ever lived in a senior citizens’ home.

Monika Anton

Monika Anton

Librarian II, North Branch Library

How long have you worked at BPL?  Over 11 years

What are your responsibilities? I do a little bit of everything but mostly you can find me at the Reference Desk – helping patrons and resolving their everyday questions. I also coordinate, organize and plan community programs and events. I work with our book collection as well – making sure that it’s in order and up-to-date.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library? I love helping patrons and our community.

What is your favorite book? It is difficult to say – it can change over time, but my favorites are the books which are timeless, such as “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Books like that will open your mind, expand your knowledge, and transform the way you live.  We should never forget to take care of the most important things, just as the Little Prince reminds us. We must never put off until tomorrow what is vital for ourselves today.

Favorite genre?  I enjoy nonfiction books, especially health and wellness topics, but I find philosophical fiction interesting as well.

Favorite food?   I like potatoes and I can eat them every day!

Your hobbies? Reading, listening to music, exercising, hiking, biking, dancing, spending time in nature, traveling, and exploring new places.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself. I was born and raised in Estonia – the smallest Baltic country with only 1.3 million of us! Estonians are fond of quoting Ernest Hemingway, who once said: “In every port in the world at least two Estonians can be found.”

Ana Tollinchi

Ana Tollinchi

Library Assistant III, Beardsley Branch Library

How long have you worked at BPL? Over 19 years

What are your responsibilities? I help library visitors sign up for library cards, loan materials such as books and movies, teach visitors how to use the library resources, organize files, statistics and more.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library? I love working at the library because I enjoy being able to help people – even if it’s just through small favors. Working at the library always gives me new challenges and opportunities for learning and growth, both as an employee and as a person.

What is your favorite book? I adore the book Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Márquez.

Favorite genre? Nonfiction

Favorite food? I love a traditional Dominican dish called “Mangu.” It is prepared with mashed green plantains and when eaten with stewed chicken, it is simply delicious.

Your hobbies?  I like to watch Netflix series with my family; most recently we’ve been watching Criminal Files.  Occasionally, I also play videogames with my family. I’ve been playing It Takes Two with my brother, and Destiny 2 with my husband and son.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself.  I was born in the Dominican Republic where I studied veterinary medicine for five years. Though I was born and raised on an island, I have never learned how to swim.         The library has been a blessing to me and I cannot wait to see what else God has planned for me. Most recently I’ve been promoted to Library Assistant III, and though I am both glad and honored to have been bestowed this position – I feel that the best is yet to come.

Paula Keegan

Paula Keegan

Branch Manager, North Branch Library

How long have you worked at BPL? Over 36 years

What are your responsibilities?  A little bit of everything! Most days are spent providing staff and colleagues with whatever is needed to keep the library running smoothly, helping patrons with questions about policies, books or information, planning programs, and ordering books, DVDs and other materials. But some days I can be hammering a chair back together or speaking to a Congressman. I can be rescuing a chicken from the shrubbery or reading a book to an excited visiting class. I can be discussing neighborhood initiatives or working collaboratively with other managers on library policy. My days are full.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library?  Every day is different. There’s always someone new to meet and something new to learn and share with others.

What is your favorite book?  I don’t have one, I have many, and many authors I look forward to reading when a new title comes out. I think we all need books we can turn to when we need to laugh, others when we need to cry, some that challenge us and others when we need an escape. 

Favorite genre?  Mostly mysteries, romance and historicals for fiction, history, science/nature and cooking for nonfiction. A romantic mystery about a beekeeper or astronomer set a hundred years ago with a recipe or two in it sounds great to me.

Favorite food?  Too many to name! Here’s a great warm weather meal, though: Corn on the cob from the farm stand on Park Avenue by Veteran’s Park, Striper or Blue caught in the Sound, fresh greens from the farmer’s market on McLevy Green with a heritage tomato grown from seeds a patron shared with me, and a cherry pie made with cherries from my mom and dad’s backyard.

Your hobbies?  Reading, movies, cooking and spending time with family.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself.  Library humor: I’m an open book. There aren’t too many surprises. Sometimes people are surprised when they see I’m left-handed. My mom always told me that being left-handed gave me a slightly different view of the world. Looking at things from different angles helps produce solutions. I like that!

Luis Rodriguez

Luis Rodriguez

Branch Manager, East Side Library

How long have you worked at BPL? 20 plus years.

What are your responsibilities? Managing staff, ordering library materials, helping patrons with questions they have.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library? I like helping patrons with daily questions.

What is your favorite book?  My favorite book is Celia: My Life by Celia Cruz.

Favorite genre?  It would have to be biographies.

Favorite food?  Bandeja Paisa.

Your hobbies?  Dancing salsa and bachata; watching movies; collecting WWE autographs;
reading graphic novels, and also I love listening to salsa, bachata, merengue, cumbia, and the 80’s music.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself.  I was born in Bogota, Colombia but raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I have over 40 WWE autographs which include The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. I took dance lessons for Salsa and Bachata. I took salsa classes for six years and bachata classes for four years. These classes changed my life – from losing weight to meeting awesome people.

Trina Preston

Trina Preston

Library Assistant II, Black Rock Library

How long have you worked at BPL? 27 years

What are your responsibilities? I check in/out books, magazines, and audio materials. I assist patrons with computers and I also process and withdraw magazines and help wherever I am needed.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library?  I love working with people and knowing I make a difference in their lives.

What is your favorite book?  My favorite book has to be “The Coldest Winter Ever” by Sister Souljah. I need a book to grab my attention within the first few pages and this one does just that.

Favorite genre?  It would have to be a mix between Urban Fiction and True Crime.

Favorite food?  Surely a mix between fish and grits and pizza.

Your hobbies?  My hobbies include relaxing and spending time with my active 9-year-old daughter.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself.  I never thought I would work in the library field.  My goal was to open up and run my own daycare center but after I heard the library was hiring I applied, got the job, and never looked back. Another fun fact about me is that I love buying fun and colorful socks; I have a drawer full of them.

Nykia Eaddy

Nykia Eaddy

Branch Manager, Newfield Library

How long have you worked at BPL? 20+ years. I started as a Library Page right out of High school.

What are your responsibilities? Typically, the Branch Manager is responsible for the daily operations of the branch. While Newfield Library is undergoing renovation and building updates, I am currently preparing for its opening, ordering new books, movies, computers, gaming equipment, and other library supplies.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library? Interacting with and helping patrons. I enjoy connecting people to the information they are looking for and the free resources we have available at the library. I also get to work with some amazing people!

What is your favorite book? The Shack by William P. Young is one of my favorite books.

Favorite genre? Fiction and Romance.

Favorite food?  Pizza, I can eat it every day!

Your hobbies? Reading of course, but also spending time with friends and family.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself: I love romantic comedies, and I still buy music CDs.

Bina Williams

Bina Williams

Librarian II, Youth Services

How long have you worked at BPL?  24 years

What are your responsibilities? I do reader’s advisory, offer story hours, lead craft programs, review and order new books, coordinate summer reading lists, look into grant opportunities, and do community outreach through the schools and other civic groups. I am a member of the Coretta Scott King Awards community, The American Library Association, The Association for Library Service to Children, and the Young Adult Library Services Association.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library?  The diversity of our patrons is the best part of our community. I adore working with the littlest children who just soak up the stories and songs at a story hour. During the COVID 19 quarantine, I continue my story time (Little Bears) via Zoom which lets me see the attendees. It warms my heart to see them and hear them! I created an art program for them called Little Hands where I am constantly amazed by the innate creativity that the children have. Process not Product! I am trying to figure out how to take this program online too.

What is your favorite book?  As a child, I loved The Secret garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The next book I adored was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I reread books annually for many years… And I do adore Harry Potter….and then there’s….. so many books, so little time…

Favorite genre?  I love to read across genres—I used to read mysteries like eating popcorn but then my tastes expanded, partly due to my career shift from bookseller to librarian. I don’t think of myself as a fantasy reader in the fairies and unicorns wing of the genre, but when I look at the many children’s novels I have enjoyed, a fair number are fantasy. But, of course, my true passion is picture books.

Favorite food?  Lobster.

Your hobbies?  Well, my career is also my hobby in a way. I love to meet children’s and YA authors and illustrators and their editors and publishers. I love to read picture books just for the joy of the art combined with a rich story. I have been very active on some major awards committees for the Association For Library Service To Children. Yes, it was a lot of work each time, but also a lot of fun. I also have been able to share these passions as an adjunct professor of Children and/or Young Adult Literature at a couple of local universities.

Tell us some surprising things about yourself.  I used to be a member of a Vintage dance group that taught and performed historic ballroom dances from the early 19th century through the 1930s! We either bought vintage clothes or made our own historically accurate ballgowns and accessories. I even made a corset! Perusing vintage clothing stores and finding old sheet music, etiquette books and dance manuals made it all the more fun.