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Longtime Librarian Leaves Legacy

Ann Tomlinson watched the transition: The children got younger as the equipment became more sophisticated. She also learned lessons, such as what boys like to read.

Tomlinson, the retired former director of the children's department at the Norwalk Public Library , spent 21 years in the library system, eight in South Norwalk and 13 on Belden Avenue. During that time, many things changed. The start of citywide all-day kindergarten meant the department needed to appeal to younger children. Then more preschools came along. Now many of the daytime programs are geared toward toddlers and babies.

She also remembers when it was a commonly accepted fact that boys did not read as much as girls. "It turns out it was the material itself," she said. "That it was discouraging, or it wasn't what they wanted."

Being in charge was a big responsibility, she said, because she chose the books. There was no thought of gender differences when she started. "You put it out there and you sort of expected that it was going to be enjoyed equally," she said. "Of course, it didn't really turn out that way."

Tomlinson advises parents who are having problems to buy their boys magazine subscriptions. Most boys aren't interested in long drawn-out books, preferring fast resolutions.

"Now with the growth of graphic novels , it's ideal," she said. "They're visual, even the fiction ones are visual. And that's what boys tend to like."

Tomlinson still works three hours a week and fills in when staffers need a day off. She'll be there for another advance: In the next month, the department will put out an iPad for children to use in a supervised area.

"There's a lot more there for them, a lot more variation," she said. "Not only with the books, the audiovisual, online everything. There's so much more to choose from."

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