Westport Library gets new director

— The Westport Library Board of Trustees President Kathy Seguin recently welcomed Dan Van Olpen as the new library director on Nov. 17, replacing Stephen Smith.

Van Olpen, a resident of Westport, is a former AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer and current Board member of Literacy Volunteers of Essex/Franklin Counties.

Although he has never worked in a library before, Van Olpen said he has spent a great deal of time visiting libraries while getting his college education and while working with children in the literacy program.

He has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in education from the University of Albany. The rich history of the area and the beauty of the Adirondacks are what Van Olpen said drew him and his wife, Diane Melin, to move to Westport five years ago from the Albany area.

“I think the fact it’s a historic library and we have a good collection of history books and being a community library is very important,” Van Olpen said.

Over the past two weeks, Van Olpen said it has been a fun and intense experience as the new director.

“It’s challenging but definitely fun, learning a lot in a short period of time, which has been good,” he said.

The new job has also given him an opportunity to meet new people from the community he hadn’t had a chance to meet since moving to the town.  Van Olpen said it has been rewarding to meet patrons of the library and neighbors and to help people find the books they want.

“In the short time I've been here I've met so many people and it’s nice to interact with new people and help them find a book they are looking for,” Van Olpen said. “I’m looking forward to meeting more people here.”

With the library’s rich history and efficient systems, Van Olpen said he has no intention of making immediate changes.

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