Game Changer Longtime library leader leaves Delray Beach

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By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
Dr. Lynda Hunter’s name will remain on the place where she spent 31 years making a difference in children’s lives, the Delray Beach Public Library Children’s Department.
Her last storytelling was filled with parents of children she once told stories to years ago and their children. Moms thanked Hunter for her influences on them and their kids.
She said seeing those children grow up and bring their kids to the library is the most gratifying experience for her.
“They are telling me that they want their child to have the same experience they did,” she said. “It’s such a gift to me.”
Even though her last day at the library was last month, she stressed that she isn’t retiring.
“I don’t like to call it retirement,” she said, adding retirement means you are giving up. “I like to call it repositioning.”
She is “repositioning” to a small island in North Carolina where she said she plans on volunteering in a library. She said the island is surrounded by a rural area that is economically depressed.
“I intend to continue to teach children to love to read,” she said stressing the love part. “I don’t teach child how to read. I teach them to love to read.”
She has been doing so in Delray since 1985 where she has watched the library grow. The former teacher said she became a librarian after moving to Florida. And after all these years she said librarians and libraries are still relevant.
“We are not a dying breed,” she said. “We are just thinning out. Not everything can be found in an E-book. Libraries are the last bastion of freedom. We don’t censor.”
Working with children, she said, has been rewarding because she gets to see their reaction to a story and how they feel after applying critical analysis to a question she poses to them.
Working with children has its challenges, too. She said when a child comes in and doesn’t like to read it is one of the best challenges.
“It only takes one book to get a child interested,” she said. “It has to be the right book, but it only takes one book.”
As a child, she said she was an avid reader even though she didn’t live close to a library.
She said when she got to make a trip to the library she would check out a stack of books and read them over and over. One of her favorites “Little Women,” she said she’s read dozens of times.
Because she knows first hand that not everyone can get to the library, she goes on the road and does outreach programming throughout the city.
Library president Nancy Dockerty said Hunter conducted 57 outreach programs this past summer.
“She is best known for her outreach,” Dockerty said. “She goes out and she tells her stories. She is so great at communicating with kids. She’s an amazing storyteller.”
Hunter said she believes all kids deserve a new book to read, to be able to crack open the spine, smell the ink and read a story that is their experience. Thanks to a partnership the library has with the Jarden Consumer Solutions Community Fund Committee, she said that has been possible.
“Just holding a book,” she said can ignite a child to read.
Being a children’s librarian isn’t just about reading books, she said.
“I don’t always read books,” she said. “I tell stories. Telling stories is an art I am trying to keep alive. It is becoming a lost art.”
She said storytelling forces you to imagine the characters and think about how the scene looks. After telling a story involving a giant, she said she asks the kids to draw what they think the giant looks like. Every time she said every depiction looks different and they are all beautiful.
Her one goal of giving every child a library card remains the same.
“I tell children it’s your first and best credit card,” she said. “There’s no interest on it. You can bring a laundry basket and you can fill it with books.”
Dockerty said the library is sad to see her leave.
“She’s a gem,” she said of Hunter. “She is the heart and soul of the library.”