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What is Howard County Library System President Tonya Aikens doing when she’s not reading?

Tonya Aikens, president and CEO of the Howard County Library System, at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Public Library.
Tonya Aikens, president and CEO of the Howard County Library System, at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Public Library. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

Tonya Aikens has spent the past three years running the Howard County Library System. For the past 15 months, she’s been doing it from her home in Columbia. Aikens, 50, is the president and CEO of HCLS. She also has three adult children.

Here are three things you might want to know about Aikens. Responses have been edited and condensed:

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She’s an outdoor fanatic

“I’m outdoorsy, and summer is my happy time. I love the beauty of the outdoors. The pandemic has been especially hard, when there wasn’t the opportunity to be out as much as I was used to. I enjoy walks, runs, spending time on the beach, even working outdoors on my laptop when I can. The job can be stressful, one of those ‘always-on positions,’ but that connection with the outdoors absolutely helps. Getting outside is really fueling for me, both for the energy it provides and the peace, the connection with nature.”

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She’s the group organizer at work

“I am the great connector, especially in the pandemic, I made sure we connected through video messenger. I host the parties and remember the birthdays. We did a video hug, an e-card for the library system, keeping everyone connected. Life is so greatly enhanced when you’re constantly operating with support and connecting to one another.”

She’s an avid tea drinker

“I have a huge collection of teas, teapots, tea mugs. I keep tea in my purse at all times: tea is everywhere. I have at least three cups a day. I’ve learned to steep to perfection. I have over 50 teapots — some are for a personal cup of tea, some are larger, some are combo teapot mugs, and some are china. I have some that were passed down from my mother, who was also a big tea lover. Tea is something I definitely came to love because of her.”

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