Thursday, July 14, 2011

Congratulations to Maxine Bleiweis, Connecticut Library Association 2011 Outstanding Librarian

Westport Library director's record: Story of transformation. (Albany Times-Union, 7/14/2011)

Excerpt:   When Maxine Bleiweis was 12 years old, she attended a Lions Club meeting in her hometown of Pascoag, R.I., that would shape the rest of her life. The service organization's gathering featured a guidance counselor, who explained that Bleiweis and other girls her age had three career options: teacher, nurse or librarian.

"I couldn't stand the sight of blood, I didn't have a whole lot of patience, so I figured I'd take the third, which was being a librarian," Bleiweis explains. "That's how it started in my mind. I'm just lucky that I found the right path that fit with my personality and abilities."

Almost 50 years later, that path has taken her to the top of her field. After 13 years as the director of the Westport Public Library, she was honored in May as the 2011 Outstanding Librarian by the Connecticut Library Association.

The accolade also reflects the library's rise to prominence as a community and state institution during Bleiweis' tenure. Since she arrived in 1998, daily circulation of library items has doubled to a current average of 2,700, making Westport the eighth-busiest library in New England. During that time, program attendance has also doubled, with library events now attracting an annual total of more than 50,000 people.

"The goal was to make this the best library any place," she says. "This community is a unique place that has a lot of resources to share with each other and with people outside of here.

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