Even with a pandemic, Wilton Library had a long list of GOOD things to celebrate in fiscal year 2021, a year in which the library thrived and was one that officials described as “pivotal” during the organization’s 126th Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 16.

It was actually the second June celebration of GOOD things for the library. Just 10 days before, executive director Elaine Tai-Lauria unveiled the building’s newly designed space that will house the Brubeck Collection archives. Despite needing to keep the gathering small due to COVID precautions, the celebration was capped off with a performance by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, who exuberantly entertained the attendees under the watchful gaze of a bust of their father Dave in a room that bears their family name.

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The archives themselves had arrived at the library that very morning, but they won’t be moved into the reconfigured space until the final touches are finished. Much of the construction took place under strict protocols while the building was closed during the pandemic. Tai-Lauria said she is looking forward to hosting an official ribbon-cutting and opening of the collection to the public sometime in the near future.

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Michele Klink, outgoing president of the Wilton Library Association Board of Trustees, opened the 126th Annual Meeting with a list of superlatives describing this year – “unprecedented, challenging, pivotal.”  In her remarks, she underscored the numerous initiatives the library undertook during the year and praised the dedicated staff for figuring out “how to serve their patrons and this community despite the pandemic.”

In addition to bringing the Brubeck Collection archives home to Wilton, Klink said other highlights centered on being able to continue to provide services even with a library that was closed. That included providing robust virtual programming for all ages, expanding the digital collection and services, and helping patrons remotely in navigating the new world of digital access.

Despite the challenges, patrons borrowed more than 150,000 items; there were over 80,000 onsite and virtual visits; more than 9,000 patrons attended 400-plus virtual programs; and there were large increases in the usage of downloadable eBooks and eAudiobooks, streaming movies, TV shows and music. In short, the library and its patrons stayed connected throughout the year.

“We did not just stand still, tread water, wait out the pandemic and survive. We paved a path for the future that will continue to serve this community for a hundred and more years to come. We thrived!”

Each year the library acknowledges a Staff Member of the Year; Tai-Lauria announced that Juan Carlos Olivares was selected this year. Klink introduced the two Volunteers of the Year — Board member Sandy Stein, who chaired the Marketing Committee and guided the team on the 125th anniversary logo branding; and Rob Sanders, vice president of the Board and one of the area’s leading architects who brought his skills to bear for the COVID-compliant barriers for the library’s public service desks and as the mastermind behind the Brubeck Collection space.

During the business meeting, attendees voted on the proposed slate of officers for FY 21-22 and elected Sanders president; Teresa DiLorenzo-Waldron, vice president; Carol Johnson, secretary; and Mike Boswood, treasurer.

Newly-elected president Sanders noted, “We can be sure that our staff will continue to provide highly accomplished services with a personal touch that makes Wilton Library the favorite place in town.  Most of all, we thank our director Elaine for her tireless dedication and grace under pressure this year. Despite many changes, the library has managed to adapt and thrive, and remains the jewel of Wilton’s intellectual and social life.”