Read a movie, write a novel, meet the librarian

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just for kicks — it’s about quantity over quality. At the Frankford Public Library, Elizabeth “Liz” Berntsen has returned to manage adult programing, and she is daring people to use NaNoWriMo as impetus to pick up a pen and tell a story.

Writers have from Nov. 1 to 30 to put on the page enough words for a full novel.

“There’s no wrong way to do it. It’s just a matter of making yourself do it. Setting the goal and realizing it is possible to write that much, there’s no time to second guess yourself,” said Berntsen, the library’s new adult-services coordinator, with a laugh.

“It’s certainly ambitious to try to write 50,000 words a month. We’re all busy. It seems impossible, and yet people do it every year,” she said. “We’ve always had folks express interest in attempting it, so we’re going to try to make this a welcoming space for people to work on their first novel!”

Since she left the Frankford library in 2007, Berntsen has worked in the Loudon County, Va., library system and an arts college library in Portland, Ore.

Now working toward her master’s degree in English and creative writing, Berntsen said she has always loved the world of writing: “I think it was just an interest in words… it starts early,” she said.

The Frankford job has brought Berntsen full circle as she returned to Delaware.

“When I left Frankford 11 years ago,” she said, “one of the people hired to fill the hours was Cindy Givens,” who ran adult programming until this summer. Now Berntsen is filling that vacancy.

Berntsen will inherit popular programs including the book club, winter reading program and Watch the Book movie nights.

But she said she’s excited to bring new ideas from her own interests and hear what the community wants. A new monthly Writers’ Workshop will launch in late October, as people inspire and support each other’s creativity.

“I’m really happy that the library’s able to offer that. … I think it’s something that’s going be really popular and gain traction,” said Library Director Rachel Wackett.

Berntsen said she also sees opportunities for tech classes to introduce the public to library web services.

“It’s always been a great library, but they’ve had the opportunity to involve themselves in the town,” Berntsen said of the library’s work with the Envision Frankford neighborhood group.

Originally from Frankford and a graduate of Indian River High School, Berntsen is now the mother of two children and said she is glad to be welcomed home to Delaware.

“It’s a totally different space,” Berntsen said of the Frankford library’s 2012-2013 building expansion. “It’s really exciting to see how the library has improved itself and is better serving the community in the time since I left. I hope I’ve also improved myself and am better able to serve the community as well. It’s exciting to be welcomed back here and see how things have changed.”

“We’re just really, really happy that Liz is back and made such a smooth transition, and we’re looking forward to her new endeavors,” Wackett said.

“I think a public library’s focus has to be serving the community,” Berntsen said. “I see my role as assessing what people are interested in, how the library can improve their lives and what we can do to make it more accessible to them.”

Libraries serve the people, she said, from fun programs to tutoring, parent workshops and technology how-to classes.

Indeed, earlier that day, Wackett had watched Berntsen help a patron upload a résumé on the computer. Afterward, the patron shook her hand and said, “‘I couldn’t have done this without you.’ That’s one more person employed in Delaware,” said Wackett.

“It’s an amazing thing that libraries are free and open spaces,” Berntsen said. “Libraries depend on their communities’ interest, and we’re just here to help in whatever way we can.”

Upcoming adult programs include:

• Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. — Watch the Book: “Wild”

• Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. — Book Circle: “Frankenstein”

• Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. — Watch the Book: “Frankenstein”

• Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. — Writers’ Group: NaNoWriMo Kickoff.

Programs are free and open to the public.

The Frankford Public Library is located at 8 Main Street, Frankford. Events are posted online at For details, call (302) 732-9351 or visit the library’s pages on Facebook and Twitter.


By Laura Walter

Staff Reporter