Wilton Library closes out a year for the books
WILTON — Wilton Library Association’s 125th year was described as “the best of times and the worst of times” by library executive director Elaine Tai-Lauria, borrowing a sentiment from Charles Dickens’s classic, “A Tale of Two Cities.”
High points included securing the Brubeck Collection and creating a 125th-anniversary logo, but just as the library was about to embark on marking that milestone, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of numerous celebrations and fundraisers.
Still, the library closed out its fiscal year with a small surplus and as the 125th Annual Friends meeting convened on Sept. 23, president Michele Klink thanked trustees for their efforts, including work on the Wilton Library Association Endowment Fund by endowment co-chairs Nick Davatzes and Lawrence Mannix. They “steered the library into a new era that will help ensure stability in providing artistic and cultural programs for years to come,” Klink said.
In her remartks, Tai-Lauria explained how the year had started with enthusiasm with the announcement that one of the foremost jazz archives of the late Dave Brubeck was coming home to Wilton. The library unveiled its 125th logo at the Winter Carnival, and then a few weeks later bright, colorful anniversary banners were on the lampposts throughout Wilton Center for all to see.
In March, the library received the CT Library Association Award for Excellence in Public Service for the Wilton Reads 2019 program on the Holocaust, which also was a collaboration with Wilton Public Schools. Wilton Library’s robotics team, Singularity Technology, won several awards and was the winning team in Connecticut at the First Robotics Competition, earning it a spot to compete at the Worlds’ competition in Detroit. All these accomplishments were coupled with the regular ongoing programs - author talks, world-class jazz concerts, scholarly lectures - that were embraced by the community. That was “the best of times.”
The COVID-19 pandemic brought everything to a standstill in March as the library closed, heralding “the worst of times.”
Library staff pivoted with the help of its technology team, and soon was offering digital resources, thrice-weekly newsletters, and numerous virtual programs from story times for children to a popular recipe swap and literary seminars. By June, the library was able to open its drive-thru window resulting in more than 4,000 cars served and more than 85,000 items borrowed.
Some 3,800 participants attended more than 200 virtual programs, with an additional 1,500 who viewed the recorded programs. Over 1,000 reference questions were answered
The library is now open by appointment, Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and programs continue with the reintroduction of Wilton Reads and its jazz-themed programming, along with many more programs for the fall. Details on how to make appointments to visit the library are at www.wiltonlibrary.org.
Election and honors
Rob Sanders, vice president of Wilton Library Association, presided over the election of officers, with the following being voted in for Fiscal Year 2020-2021: Michele Klink, president, Rob Sanders, vice president, Carol Johnson, secretary and Kim Healy, treasurer. Trustees serving additional three-year terms are Connie Jo Dickerson, Tony Fouracre, Peg Koellmer, Jennifer Longmire and Rob Sanders. New trustees Tom Fagan, Joe Magnano, Mike Sutka and John Fischetti filled the four vacancies.
Retiring trustees were Nick Davatzes, John Hinshaw, Mark Kaduboski and Lawrence Mannix. Each was honored with a book in their name that will become part of the library’s collection.
Saraswathi (Saras) Nair, M.D., a trustee of Wilton Library Association, was honored as the Volunteer of the Year. In large part, her expert medical guidance has helped to provide a safe environment for patrons and staff.
The library’s Network Services staff, Mary Anne Mendola Franco, Dale Cates and Thomas Kozak, were all recognized as Staff Members of the Year. They prepared computers for staff to work remotely and they keep watch over all things technology-driven for patrons and staff during the pandemic.