Wilton Library Association (WLA) hosted its 128th Annual Meeting on the evening of Wednesday, June 14. The brief business meeting included the election of officers, a celebration of members retiring from the WLA Board of Trustees, and a presentation of awards for the library’s outstanding Volunteer of the Year and Staff Person of the Year.
The meeting concluded with a special Author Talk by popular Wiltonian thriller author Mark Rubinstein.
In his remarks regarding the fiscal year 2022-2023, WLA Board of Trustees President Rob Sanders said that it has been an “exciting and productive year” at the library, as the organization returned to normal activities post-pandemic and hosted successful fundraisers including Casino Night and the Spring Gala.
Sanders also highlighted the library’s Strategic Plan process.
“[It brought library staff and Trustees together to] really focus on what Wilton Library means to this community, how it can grow in the future, and I’m really pleased that it’s a piece of my legacy here… for the next years upcoming, that we can go forward with confidence that we are serving our community and upholding our standards,” Sanders said.
WLA Treasurer Mike Boswood said that the library has emerged in a “remarkable” financial position from FY 22-23, despite facing significantly increased expenses for utilities, staffing, technology, and development. He noted that the combination of the town grant, strong book sale revenue, and an excellent response to the Annual Appeal campaign bolstered revenues, as well as the “fantastic success” of the library’s Spring Gala fundraiser, which he said “…generated more revenue than ever before.”
In the coming fiscal year, Boswood said he anticipates challenges as the library aims to return to 2019 staffing levels. He concluded by praising the library’s retiring head of finance, Susan Taylor, for her excellent management and tracking of the library’s budget.
Wilton Library Executive Director Caroline Mandler began her remarks with thanks.
“On behalf of the staff and Board, I express our appreciation to all of our donors
for your generosity which allows us to expand our programs, collections, and services, and to the Board of Selectmen for their essential support of the library through our public-private partnership.”
She described the FY 22-23 as “a year of both growth and renewed purpose,” as the library launched a six-month Strategic Plan process that resulted in reaffirming its “mission to inform, enrich, connect, and inspire our community”; and crafting “a new vision statement centered around fulfilling the diverse needs of our changing community with an emphasis on program expansion and creating an environment where everyone is made to feel safe and welcome.”
Mandler shared a few examples of work that has already been done across the
library six months into the three-year Strategic Plan: the near completion of a project to create a website that will provide enhanced digital access to The Brubeck Collection; new research showing language diversity in Wilton is being utilized to select collection materials and languages used in the library; the diverse range of programs offered for Wilton Reads, a longstanding collaboration with the Wilton Public Schools; and co-sponsoring the first Wilton Pride Festival in collaboration with Wilton Pride and 11 other community partners, an event attended by more than 400 members of the community at the library.
Mandler also shared the statistic that out of all of the libraries in Fairfield
County, Wilton Library currently has the highest percentage of town residents that have a library card.
“[That] is a great indicator of engagement and how much the residents
value the library,” she said.
She also recognized the library’s staff, including longtime Children’s librarian Lesley Keogh, who passed away in March. “Not only are they great at their jobs, they have embraced this renewed sense of purpose so we know that we’re making a difference in the community, and that’s something you can feel when you walk into the building, it’s really different and special,” Mandler said.
Awards and Elections
Each year, the library acknowledges a Staff Person of the Year. For 2022-23 Mandler announced it was Assistant Materials Management Librarian Cheryl Morgenstern.
“[She was selected for] her attention to detail, knowledge of resources, professional
manner, and sense of humor… She is the center of gravity for the Materials Management department, staying calm amid the flurry of activity… Cheryl is also a
superstar librarian at the adult reference desk [and] goes above and beyond to meet
our patrons’ needs,” Mandler said.
Sanders announced that Trustee Mike Sutka was selected as Volunteer of
the Year for his contributions in leading the library’s staff and Board through the
Strategic Plan process.
“[Sutka is] a man of diverse talents… impressive how he made the process open and welcome to everyone’s input… the retreat day that we had was just really inspiring about what could be done in the library,” Sanders said.
During the business meeting, attendees approved the nomination of Carol
Johnson as president, with Sanders retiring from the Board of Trustees. They also elected Marty Avallone as vice president, Betsy Huffman as secretary, and Boswood as treasurer for the fiscal year 2023-2024.
Trustees nominated and approved to serve continuing terms on the board are
Stephanie Johns-Clark, Juliette Leavey, Jennifer Longmire, and Joe Magnano.
Retiring trustees were honored with books that were purchased for the library’s
collection. The books will carry bookplates acknowledging their service as trustees.
Those retiring are Connie Jo Dickerson, Tony Fouracre, Sanders, and Sutka.
Vice President Avallone thanked Sanders for his nine years of service on the WLA Board, including five years as vice president and two years as president. He noted that Sanders’ tenure included the hiring and transition to Mandler as executive director, helping to shape the library’s Strategic Plan, and heading the architectural design of The Brubeck Collection.
“The last three years have been incredibly turbulent and transformative for the library and Rob led the way with a lot of hard work, motivation, expert guidance, and grace,” Avallone said.
At the meeting’s conclusion, Wiltonian author Rubinstein presented an engaging Author’s Talk program about the differences between the mystery and thriller genres. He spoke about their defining characteristics and how they both have been enjoyed throughout the ages. Shakespeare might not be considered as a thriller writer, but Rubinstein made the case that the bard was — along with Hemingway,
Dostoyevsky, and other classical authors. He also said that today, mysteries and thrillers often dominate bestseller lists and will continue to endure. In a press release abou the meeting, library officials offered as proof Rubinstein’s latest
thriller, Downfall, that “is getting rave reviews and winning new fans.”
For more than 128 years, Wilton Library has served as the cultural and intellectual center of Wilton with the mission to inform, enrich, connect, and inspire the community. The library is located at 137 Old Ridgefield Rd. in Wilton Center. For more information, visit the Wilton Library website or call 203.762.3950.