West Tisbury celebrates its new library

From left: West Tisbury Free Public Library children's librarian Nelia Decker; Director Beth Kramer; library building committee chair Leah Smith; and chair of library board of trustees Linda Hearn. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The ribbon cutting ceremony at the grand opening of the newly renovated and enlarged West Tisbury Public Library had the feel of a turn of the last century public celebration. About 200 celebrants of all ages gathered on the second day of spring, in front of what is essentially a new building.

The sun peaked from behind the clouds, pretty much on schedule, as a brass band played. A den of Cub Scouts presented the colors. The crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the National Anthem and state, town, and library officials spoke.

Mary Ann Cluggish, representing the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, praised the vision and hard work of the library staff, the town, and the volunteers who brought the project to completion. She asked those gathered in front of her a series of questions. The crowd answered, as if part of a liturgical responsive reading.

“Is there any small town anywhere that uses its library more than West Tisbury?”

“No!” the crowd responded.

“Is there any other small town anywhere where 89 percent of the town has library cards?”

“No,” with loud applause.

“The commissioners congratulate the dozens and dozens who worked to make this project a reality,” she said.

Ms. Cluggish said the building is a collaboration of the community and gave special congratulations to the trustees, the library foundation, and to library director Beth Kramer.

“Her leadership moved this project forward with the help of the library staff and the legion of library volunteers,” she said.

The renovation-expansion project broke ground in December, 2012. The library was funded by $1.7 million raised from private donors by the West Tisbury library foundation, $1.5 million from the town and a state grant of $2.93 million.

Leah Smith, chairman of the library committee, Marilyn Hollinshead, from the friends of the library, and Hunter Moorman, chairman of the library foundation also gave thanks to the community for its support.

The ribbon was cut, the doors were opened, and the children moved quickly to the new spacious children’s room. “The kids look happy to find the toys they remembered from the old library,” Carly Look, a West Tisbury grandmother said.

Throughout the day people from all over the Island strolled through West Tisbury’s newest asset, sipping coffee, nibbling on cookies, catching up with old friends and finding new books.