In 1930 a group of town residents formed the nonprofit Bethany Library Association to bring library services to the growing community. All Association members are volunteers with connections to the town. The Association operates and maintains the Clark Memorial Library using funds provided by annual grants from the town of Bethany and the state of Connecticut and by income from endowments provided by many generous townspeople and local entities. Each year the Association conducts an Annual Giving Drive to solicit funds to ensure delivery of the library’s mission.
The Association’s emerging concern is sustainability. Recognizing that the Clark Memorial Library provides a variety of services to patrons, the Association meets on a regular basis to review, develop and implement strategies to nurture and grow the library. These meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Members are nominated by current Association members or the Library Director. We also accept community nominations. The Association votes on nominations. Members participate on committees. Committees include, but are not limited to, the following: Governance, Development, and Maintenance and Grounds. The Association has four elected officers: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. A Trustee oversees the endowment.
Over the last three years the Bethany Library Association has successfully steward library finances through our fundraising efforts and by continued collaboration with the Town of Bethany. Our annual grant from the Town of Bethany and a capital grant enabled us to regrade the library property to prevent internal flooding. These monies also assisted us in renovating our meeting room. We are now able to offer a variety of programming, including art exhibitions, and to serve as a public meeting space as necessary. The library is now open 40 hours a week. And, we are proud to announce that for the first time in our history we have a full-time children’s librarian.
To continue moving the mission of the library forward, we are engaged in ongoing nonprofit board education and development.
Kathryn Sylvester, President
Clark Memorial Library enables patrons like me, the opportunity to think, to challenge, and to fully engage in the Bethany community. Recently, my personal journey has taken me to some unexpected places. I have taken advantage of every opportunity to push and challenge myself. This library became a home away from home for my children and me, not just for the programming we participated in and the books, movies, and activity passes we borrowed but for the community of patrons, staff and board members who welcomed us. My involvement with the library has reminded me of how kind and generous this community is.
As a child my father commented that I would read everything that I could get my hands upon, even a cereal box. Having frequent access to our small local library in southern New Jersey offered me access to a world that was bigger than my small hometown and a refuge from the bullies at school.
Personally I am the mother of two wonderful children. I recently discovered upcycling. My home is full of recent projects. I still read everything. I enjoy all types of music and art. Professionally, I am an attorney in private practice. I focus on litigation, real estate, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and criminal law.
Jennifer Turner, Vice President
Calico Harington, Secretary
The daughter of an author (Donald Harington) and a librarian, Calico has always had a special place in her heart for books and libraries. As a child, she quickly worked her way through her small Vermont town library’s offerings, as well as the shelves of books in her family home.
After moving to Bethany in 1998, Calico and her two children became regular visitors to the Clark Library. As a busy middle-school teacher, she now finds herself most commonly “reading” audio books during her commute, but nothing compares to a good real-life page turner. She also enjoys reading the free magazines available through the Clark’s Zinio app!
Calico is pleased to have joined the Clark Memorial Library board. The Clark is an integral part of Bethany, not just for checking out physical books, but also for access to media and resources of all kinds, as well as opportunities to connect to our community through the myriad of programs for all ages and interests.
Jonathan Fin Hirschoff, Treasurer
My history with the Clark Memorial Library goes back to the mid-1980’s, when I would eagerly take part in the yearly children’s summer reading challenge. When I returned to Bethany in 2015, I got my library card before I unpacked. Easy to say, then, that I have a lifelong relationship with the institution – not to mention my relationship with devouring books.
What makes service on the Bethany Library Association most important to me, however, is my conviction that access to free public libraries is fundamentally important for private, civic, professional, and cultural life – by extension, government, democracy, and the economy. A public library is of near equal accessibility to all, regardless even of citizenship. In fact, a person could study for the citizenship examination with library resources. He could also check out a book at any reading level, in virtually every genre, in digital or hard copy. Access is available to academic journals, legal resources, and information for small businesses. He could check out video or audio recordings, or attend a movie screening or any number of events and workshops. He could take advantage of off-site passes and discounts. Reference materials, magazines, and newspapers are available. There are some newer technologies available as well – one could create a prototype, sculpture, or spare part with the 3D printer; they could check out a tablet, or fax a document. This combination of broad access and broad resources is what gives the library a special place in my heart, and I’m proud and honored to serve on the board.
Timothy Niedermann is a professional writer and editor, who over his career has dealt with a wide variety of subject matter—from sports and public policy to scholarly articles on law and celebrity biographies. He has been a Bass Writing Tutor at Yale University and a lecturer in communications at McGill University. A native of Bethany, he moved to Montreal in 1999, where he lived for 13 years. Mr. Niedermann has reviewed indie fiction for Kirkus Reviews and has published book reviews in the Montreal Review of Books and the Ottawa Review of Books. He contributes “think” pieces to The Montreal Review. His novel, Wall of Dust, was published by Deux Voiliers Publishing in 2015. Mr. Niedermann is a graduate of Kenyon College and attended the University of Freiburg in Germany. He also holds a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University Law School.
Although I enjoy getting lost in a good story now and then, I never saw myself being involved with the board of a library. I moved to Bethany 20 years ago and I like helping people, so when someone suggested the library needed help with their buildings and grounds I thought, sure what can I do to help!
I quickly fell in love with this wonderful library and the dedicated people that volunteer and work there. I’ve lost track of the years, and all the different things I’ve learned and types of project, people, events and experiences I’ve been involved with at the library. Clark Memorial is a part of my life and helping the library grow is fun and gets more exciting all the time.
My Work has always taken a long commute and I have long been addicted to audio books to make my trip more pleasant. The Library was a wonderful place to take my children to find adventure when they were young, and now grown, my daughter even looks to the library for hosting seminars and other events.
Steve Massey, Trustee
Melissa Canham-Clyne, Library Director
If you would like to attend a Bethany Library Association meeting please call 203 393-2103 to confirm meeting location.