The following article was compiled from a press release.

Wilton Library is pleased to announce that it received the Excellence in Public Library Service Award from the Connecticut Library Association today. The library received the honor for its comprehensive Wilton Reads 2019 program, a town-wide reading program about the Holocaust. The book, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, is historical fiction based on the life of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig Sokolov. It is a story of hope, courage, and survival in the face of horrors of the Holocaust.

As noted on the CLA’s website, the award is presented to a library that exemplifies “creativity and innovation, service to the community, leadership in creating model programs and programs which will affect the future of the library and its community.”

Lauren McLaughlin, Assistant Director, Patron Services and Collection Development, Wilton Library, provided the award submission introduction, “Elaine Tai-Lauria, Executive Director, Wilton Library was the driving force behind ‘Wilton Reads 2019.’  When she read about the re-appearance of signs of intolerance and anti-Semitic symbols in town, Elaine knew Wilton Library had to take a leadership role in educating the community about the signs of prejudice that were emerging in society again.  Elaine worked tirelessly with the Wilton Public Schools and several community organizations to collaborate on this robust slate of programs. The Town is a better place because of her dedication to the truth. ‘Wilton Reads 2019’ was a success because of Elaine’s vision and her leadership.”

Tai-Lauria said of the achievement, “I appreciate that Wilton Library is being recognized
by the Connecticut Library Association. This was such a meaningful undertaking and I am so grateful to Wilton Public Schools and others for helping us bring this awareness and education to the entire community.”

Along with the schools, other community organizations collaborations included the
Wilton Clergy Association and American Legion Post 86. GOOD Morning Wilton was the media sponsor.

This is the second time the library has been honored for this work in the community.
Wilton Public Schools and Wilton Library were recognized in 2019 with the National School Public Relations Association Golden Achievement Award for Wilton Reads 2019.

The staff at Wilton Library took on the leadership role in bringing these lessons to life in
a comprehensive way. In addition to inviting Australian Heather Morris to speak at Wilton Library and at Wilton High School, other innovative programming crossed disciplines so all Wiltonians could participate. Programs included all-inclusive book discussions; a talk by Holocaust survivor, Judith Altmann; a presentation by the daughter of artist William Pachner whose art ultimately was inspired by the loss of 80 members of his family in the Holocaust; a Wilton Clergy Association discussion on tolerance that also included artifacts relating to the Holocaust and World War II-related objects, such as a surviving Torah from Czechoslovakia; a book talk about an Iranian diplomat in France who managed to help hundreds of Jews to escape; a musical performance by Igor Pikayzen featuring music written by musicians who became Holocaust victims; a seminar on poetry inspired by the Holocaust; and a moderated documentary film viewing, as well as walk-in viewings.

Tai-Lauria commented, “I am very proud of the library staff members who helped create this significant programming. They embraced this project from the start and cultivated the robust programs, providing an immersive experience for the community.”

Carol Johnson, Vice President, Fairfield County Bank, noted, “Wilton Reads is a model
program that has brought a whole new dimension to the Town of Wilton. Wilton Library is most deserving of this award for its leadership in fostering creativity, innovation, and collaboration in our community.” Fairfield County Bank has partnered with the library on this program for the past several years with its generous donations of books that are provided free to the community.

Tai-Lauria said, “Ultimately, our goal with ‘Wilton Reads 2019’ was that, as a community,
we would emerge from this experience with a greater understanding and appreciation of the common bond of humanity that we share. The future of Wilton and other communities depend on our tolerance and respect for each other, and libraries can be catalysts in promoting greater understanding of our common humanity, then we all win. We continue to receive kudos for ‘Wilton Reads 2019’ and hope the lessons learned are not forgotten.”

The library also received an Honorable Mention for its 2019 Annual Appeal video
created by library staff member Kathy Trentos.

“Wilton Reads 2020” selection is Tales of the Jazz Age by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which has
been postponed due to the pandemic. The program was an exploration of American jazz and part of the centennial celebration of the jazz legend and Wiltonian Dave Brubeck. It was scheduled to launch in April with a Wilton Public Schools collaboration. A new start is to be announced at a later date.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is available in eBook and eAudiobook formats from the
library’s Digital Library. For those needing assistance downloading items, please visit “Book a Librarian” on the library’s homepage under “Books,” then click “Find Your Next Reads.” An appointment with a Wilton Library librarian can be coordinated with either a phone call or a virtual visit.