The Ridgefield Library’s annual Great Expectations Gala on May 4 at the library will honor Dewey and Paul McNamara with the 2019 Hope H. Swenson Visionary Award for their enduring support of the library, as well as their involvement with numerous other municipal and charitable organizations.
"Great Expectations has become a much-anticipated spring event in Ridgefield,” said Brenda McKinley, director of the Ridgefield Library. “Not only is it fun and elegant, but it is also vital to the library’s ability to continue to anticipate and meet the evolving needs of our community, which is key to our mission.” The library is a 501(c)(3) association, and each year it needs private donations totaling 30 cents of every dollar spent.
“Community” is indeed central to the library’s core values, objectives and mission. As the strategic plan for 2018-2021 says, the library is “an essential partner and the place where people go to discover, question, learn and connect.” At the same location in the center of town since 1903, today’s 43,000-square-foot facility (compared to 4,000 in that 1903 building) incorporates the latest in 21st century technology.
According to McKinley, the Library’s role in supporting Ridgefield as a vibrant and healthy community can be seen in key programming areas such as literacy, health and welfare, economic development and civic engagement. For example, Children’s programming, such as Drop-In Storytime and Stories for 3s, 4s and 5s, provides building blocks for success at school. Blood pressure screening (with RVNA) and Medicare enrollment counseling (with Ridgefield Social Services) help build a healthy community. The library also serves as a center for lifelong learning with popular classes for improving business and technology skills of entrepreneurs and at-home workers, as well as senior citizens.
As the library expands its community engagement, in keeping with the updated strategic plan, it strives to live its values of being an inclusive and welcoming space for all of Ridgefield. “Our vision is to be the model for a vibrant and vital 21st century community library,” McKinley said. “The Great Expectations gala will celebrate the McNamaras and what they have done for the library and the community. It will also celebrate the ever-expanding and increasingly essential part our library plays in today’s Ridgefield.”
Caption: Seated (left to right): Library staffers Connie Marsala, Development Associate; Brenda McKinley, Director, and Laureen Bubniak, Development Director. Standing (left to right): Gala committee chairs: Peter and Marcie Coffin, and Theresa and Dean Miller.