WESTPORT, Conn. -- Maxine Bleiweis, the beloved executive director at the Westport Library for the past 17 years, will retire this summer after a remarkable 41-year career.
Bleiweis is not your parents’ librarian. You won’t find her shushing anyone, ever. On the contrary, she delights in the discussions, camaraderie and personal exchanges that make the Westport Library one of the most vibrant and visited in the nation.
The Westport Library attracts more than a thousand visitors per day – a staggering number in such a small community. But pay one visit, and you will know why. It is the bustling hub of downtown Westport, where residents come to get coffee at the café, to 3D-print their own digital creations and even to play a few rounds of ping-pong. The library’s event schedule is as impressive as they come, with genuinely exciting workshops, discussions and gatherings taking place.
And it's all thanks to Bleiweis. “Being a librarian,” she says, “is about understanding what’s on people’s minds, so that the library can mirror it and then enhance it.” Her mission has been to make the public library a forum where “everyone’s welcome” to discuss any and all issues affecting the community.
But Bleiweis is responsible for so much more than daily events at the Westport Library. Her job as executive director also entails the “three ‘B’s,” as she refers to them: boards, budget and buildings.
What this means is that Maxine Bleiweis’s day does not end when the library closes. Despite her rigorous schedule, the 64-year-old grandmother of three has the appearance and vigor of someone half her age who is about to hit her professional prime.
When asked what she plans to do with her free time and bountiful energy, Bleiweis says, “A bit of consulting, and spending more time with my family.”
This year, Bleiweis is the recipient of the prestigious Charlie Robinson Award, given to one librarian nationwide by the American Library Association in recognition of innovative leadership.
She was also honored locally with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce's “First Citizen” award this week.
A community celebration will be held Friday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the library. Light refreshments will be served, and a short program will be presented at 7 p.m.
The public is invited to attend. Register for the celebration here .
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