Bethel Public Library Grand Reopening Ceremony September 29, 2013 1:00 pm in the Library Courtyard
Speaker: Jane Bickford, Chairman, Bethel Public Library Board of Directors
Today is about saying "Thank You".
The building beside us stands here with all of its rooms open to the public because of generosity, the desire to contribute to society, to make many lives better, to be part of an inspiring legacy.
You were invited here today because you are a donor. You chose to be part of something beyond your immediate personal life. You chose to be part of improving your community in a way that will last for a very long time.
Christopher Alexander, one of my favorite architects, writes and teaches about the importance of making buildings and spaces which are joyous, life-affirming, satisfying places to live, work, learn and play. He has spent his career studying the best ways to do that.
I think a town library, especially, should be all these things, should be an environment which strengthens us as human beings, stimulates our minds, and makes our lives better. I believe the design of the Bethel Public Library building accomplishes this.
Many people are responsible for this success, and are deserving of our thanks:
- Lynn Rosato, our Library Director, for understanding so well what a library building needs to be, for translating that knowledge into the thousands upon thousands of details which make up a plan that becomes the contents of a grant application, and for using that knowledge to make the best choices during the construction process.
- Jarett Crooks, representing Paul B. Bailey Architects, for improving on and completing the original plans drawn by Jeter Cook Jepson in 2004.
- The Morganti Group, who returned as our construction managers to complete the project they started in 2004, particularly Steve Higgs who served this time as the Project Manager. Both of these firms have been excellent at supporting and implementing our vision.
- The individual members of the Library's Board of Directors over the course of 15 years, for their commitment to a new library building which could truly meet the needs of Bethel residents, and for their willingness to take on the very unfamiliar role of fundraisers in order to make their vision a reality.
- The members of the Public Site & Building Commission for the Town of Bethel for overseeing the project, selecting the architects and construction managers, and contributing their personal expertise to solve problems and keep the project within budget.
- The State of Connecticut for creating grants which support the construction of library buildings, and municipal parking lots. We applied for and received grants from the Connecticut State Library, and DECD, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. The Town's Board of Selectmen used LoCIP funds (Connecticut Local Capital Improvement Program) to abate and demolish the Old Town Hall building to make way for required parking spaces. These Government funds, tax dollars coming back to Bethel, were a great start, but the largest, the State Library grant, required us to raise a two-thirds match.
- We turned to local foundations and received grants and gifts from Union Savings Bank, Newtown Savings Bank, Savings Bank of Danbury, Praxair, Inc., and the Albert Wadsworth and Helen Clark Meserve Memorial Fund.
- And of course, we turned to our friends, that is, the Friends of the Bethel Public Library. They began their support by making the first donation to our Capital Campaign to sponsor the Maria Parloa Community Room, then continued steadily raising money throughout the campaign until 2012 when they made an extra donation which met our fundraising goal for matching the grant funds and allowed us to actually begin the construction process. Recently they donated again to furnish the Community Room with state of the art projection and media equipment.
We are extremely grateful for the work and the funds provided by government agencies, and by corporations and foundations which chose the Library project to carry out their mission of support within the local community.
But today I particularly want to recognize and honor our personal donors, people who had no official connection or obligation to support the Library, but who chose to donate to a cause they believed was especially worthwhile, who chose to create a legacy which benefits the entire Bethel community, and beyond.
- The Arnhold Family, philanthropists for many generations, who translated a great personal loss into a stellar space for children to learn and enjoy the myriad experiences a library can offer. Through their foundation's sponsorship of the Children's Library, Shelly Arnhold's spirit continues her work of teaching and inspiring young children.
- The Rubino Family, whose Stony Hill Inn was a fixture in Bethel's social life for well over half a century, sponsored the Seelye Family Local History Room. The Library was opening its new spaces just as the Rubino family was closing the Inn, and in a fortuitous stroke, the long familiar furniture from Stony Hill became Library furniture, preserving good memories while filling a great need.
- Delores Von Bank, who, without a word, named the Library as beneficiary of two annuities large enough to sponsor this Courtyard and the Adult Audio and Media areas on the main level to my right.
- Dr. Richmond and Jeanne Hubbard, who were among our first sponsors, had the imagination to look at the unfinished space on the second floor and choose the area with the best light, our very popular Newspaper and Magazine Reading Room.
- There are many more donors who sponsored a specific area or collection. As you walk through the Library, you will notice engraved wooden plaques identifying these sponsors; Baker, Brooker, Brown, Curtis, Ellingwood, Krauss, Lipman, Mason, Morris, Patzold, and Spain.
The rest of you, over 600 individuals, families, and businesses, who made donations to the Capital Campaign, deliberately chose to be part of a major project knowing it would benefit you, your families, and the entire community. Your generosity inspired the Library Board of Directors, and gave us confidence that we could actually raise the money to finish the Library.
Your names, the names of all the donors, whether you gave $10 or $800,000, are listed in this book which will be located near the elevator on the second floor, the space you helped turn from a vision and an empty shell, into a wonderful reality. We are so very grateful for your support, and with the Library Staff, many of whom are also donors, we look forward to serving you for many many years.
Speaking for myself, having worked in or with libraries for 35 years, I believe libraries are an absolutely essential part of society, for they enable all of us to be educated, amused, informed, enlightened, and therefore able to make the wise and caring decisions which create and maintain a free and thoughtful society. As I look ahead to my retirement from the Board at the end of this year, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. This building is everything I hoped and dreamed it would be. All of you, everyone who gave a donation, made this happen. I thank each of you from the bottom of my very happy heart.
Click here to make a donation to the Library's Capital Campaign.