For 23 years he’s been an “amazingly steady, careful, considerate” — and friendly — face at the Westport Library.
Now, George Wagner is retiring.
The assistant director heads south — to Asheville, North Carolina — leaving behind one building, and thousands of library users. He served both with tremendous devotion.
As staff liaison to building projects, George helped open the “new” library, then saw it through a renovation.
As a technology person he assisted with website designs and renovation, and a transformation of the catalog.
In many ways, says director Maxine Bleiweis, George helped the staff make the move from a 20th century library, into the 21st.
Always, she notes, he made everyone — colleagues and clients — “feel very, very comfortable.”
Maxine is only 1 of George’s countless fans. A staff member says that during the annual Book Sale, he does “everything from stringing hundreds of feet of phone wire across Jesup Green for the credit card machines, to making multiple trips to the bank to be sure there is plenty of change available.”
That’s one small part of George’s greatness. The staffer continues:
He’s always the last one to leave an event liked Booked for the Evening to get the Library back in shape for the next day. Sometimes he works late into the night, waiting for trucks to come and pick up the rented chairs and tables, or moving the piano back down to the McManus Room.
He fixes telephones, websites, email problems, book drop boxes, invoice issues, vendor problems, and budgets!
And the best thing about George is he doesn’t complain. He must have a special place where he goes to let off steam, but we never see it. He is steady at the helm, imparting confidence in the rest of us.
The library is not letting George go without a celebration. This Friday (Jan. 21, 6-8 p.m.), there’s a reception in the McManus Room.
That’s very fitting. The event will be the 1st in the renovated space — it’s got new paint, new carpets, and the black-and-white drawings by Westport artists have been re-hung. The project is the last George supervised at the library.
The renovation was underwritten by the Friends of the Library. That’s fitting too, Maxine notes: George oversaw all the Friends’ book sales.
The public is invited to say “goodbye” to George on Friday.
And, of course, a very heartfelt “thanks.”