The Connecticut Association of School Librarians held its Spring Fling on April 25. One of the events that evening was presenting the Rheta A. Clark Award, which recognizes an association member who has worked for at least 10 years, and has made “outstanding contributions in the library/media field.”
This year’s winner prefers to stay in the background.
Patricia “Trish” Malchman is a longtime resident of Norwich. Starting her career in 1978, she is currently the library media specialist at Norwich Technical High School, and works at Otis Library on the side.
When Norwich Tech Principal Patty King announced that Malchman won, she said, with a bit of a chuckle, “Oh no, not me.”
Malchman prefers to be a team player rather than be in the limelight. She thinks it has to do with her background.
Growing up on McKinley Avenue, Malchman came from a family with eight children. Her parents emphasized the importance of reading.
“My mother was adamant that we went to the library every week. She said ‘With a book, you can go anywhere in the world. It’s a treasure,’ ” Malchman said.
She likes to pass the same message on to the students of Norwich Tech. If students tell her that they don’t like to read, she’ll say that they haven’t found the right book yet.
“I told you that I’m really not a reader, but I’m almost done with that book and I really loved it,” Malchman said, repeating the words of a student.
Norwich Tech is a participant the Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge. Malchman wanted to curb the loss of knowledge over the summer, and pushed for the school to take part. She says that Norwich Tech has been recognized 12 years in a row, and is the only technical high school to have been recognized by this program.
When she’s not working at school, she helps out at Otis Public Library. She takes over shifts when other employees are sick or on vacation. Her co-workers at Otis were also proud of her winning the award.
“Trish is a very well-respected and well loved member of our staff. I’m glad that someone else recognized her for her talents and gifts,” Kathleen Special, assistant director at Otis, said.
In fact, they love her so much that they don’t want her to leave. Malchman said that she gave Otis a leave notice last year. When she got to her “retirement” party, the cake said “Happy Hiatus.”
“I said ‘What does this mean?’ They said ‘Oh no, you’re coming back.’ I went to give them my keys, and they said ‘You absolutely hold on to them. You’re coming back,'” she said.
After Malchman retires from Norwich Tech next year, she’ll return to working part time at Otis library, so long as she’s healthy.