WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Library Director Tina Stewart recently updated the Board of Selectmen, and the community, on the library’s ongoing 150th Anniversary celebration.
Stewart began by providing a brief synopsis of the library’s history:
- Wilmington’s first public library opened in a small room behind the old Town Hall, which is now the Wilmington Arts Center, in 1819.
- In 1890, the library was moved to the old Center School House, which is now the Fourth of July Building. And it remained there for almost 80 years.
- In the early 60’s, the town looked at expanding the library. The town purchased the land on Middlesex Avenue, which was previously owned by the Boston archdiocese where St. Thomas was located.
- On Memorial Day, 1969, a new library was dedicated. It changed its name from Public to Memorial. It was dedicated to the four servicemen from Wilmington who were killed in Vietnam.
- The proposal to build a new library on the Swain Green was defeated in 2005, so staff began conducting an interior makeover of the library. Most recently, the library renovated its front stairwell, created a small meeting room, and constructed the Peggy Kane Memorial Reading Garden.
- The library has embraced a lot of service changes, particularly over the past 20 years alongside technology advances. “We use technology to enhance our services to the community to meet its needs. This really became apparent during COVID-19 when we offered free downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, music & movies, plus held lots of our programs via Zoom.”
“The library is no longer just transactional, but also transformational,” said Stewart, pointing to the forging of lots of community connections and the its tagline, “Community Starts Here.” “We constantly look at ways to engage the community, bring them together, and get them to know Wilmington a little better as well.”
Stewart highlighted several of the ways the library is celebrating its 150th Anniversary:
- The library held a rededication ceremony over the Memorial Day Weekend. The library is now dedicated to all the residents who gave their lives over the past 150 years to our country, including the 4 Vietnam War veterans.
- The library gave out 150 lawn signs with the anniversary logo.
- The library gave out caps with the anniversary logo to the first 150 kids who signed up for the Children’s Summer Reading Program. Additionally, every adult who signs up for the Adult Summer Reading Program and reads at least one book will receive a cap.
- The Children’s Department is holding a coloring contest with the logo.
- The library is holding a Community Reads Program, encourages everyone in town to read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and come together to discuss it.
- A lot of historical photos of the library were collected and now available to view on the library’s website.
- The Friends of the Library are running their membership drive, where a grand prize winner will receive $150 in Wilmington restaurant gift certificates.
- The Friends of the Library will giving out 150 packages of sugar cookies during the library’s annual Summer Bash on August 13 on the Swain Green.
“In closing, I’d like to acknowledge all the staff that as worked at the library over the years, the trustees who have served on the boards, and the Friends of the Library of who have volunteered, plus all the people who have walked through the doors,” said Stewart. “We’ve helped many people, supported them in some way, and changed their lives. We look forward to serving the citizens of Wilmington for many years to come.”
Selectmen praised Stewart for her library’s continued success, and for being one of the reasons Wilmington is such a wonderful place to live.
“Congratulations to you and your staff on the 150th Anniversary. Thank you for all you do for the community,” Selectman Greg Bendel told Stewart. “Who would have thought that 150 years ago, you’d be outside the walls of the library building?,” pointing to recent programs at the Farmers Market, Yentile Farm, and Swain Green.
“I particularly enjoy the ‘Welcome To Wilmington’ reception you hold for new residents each year,” Bendel added. “Tons of new residents come out to meet everybody. We appreciate all that you do.”
“In today’s society, you don’t hear about much libraries. But in Wilmington, we do,” said Selectman Gary DePalma. “You and your staff encourage residents to use the library. The Town of Wilmington should be proud of its library. Libraries are still important. Enjoy the 150th.”
“I enjoyed the rededication ceremony. It was a very moving movement for the community,” said Selectman Kevin Caira. “I also enjoy your after-hours events. Those events are outstanding. You’re really spreading out and doing so much for the community. The library is such an important focal point for Wilmington. Thank you and your staff for all that you do.”
Town Manager Jeff Hull also complimented Director Stewart and her staff.
“One of the amazing elements the Wilmington Library is, under Tina’s leadership, creating an environment for her staff to test things out and try different types of programs and features,” said Hull. “In my time here, the library has really evolved with technology and the way people use the library. She’s done a masterful job of going beyond books and looking at community connections.”
Stewart thanked Hull for his unwavering support of the library, saying it was very important in allowing the library to do what it does to serve the community.
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