Maxine Bleiweis — the innovative, energetic and much-admired director who over the past 17 years propelled the Westport Library into the forefront of institutions nationwide — has announced her retirement. She moves into a new career as a consultant on July 1.
The decision was difficult. But, she says, “with the Westport Library solidly set on its future path, I hope I will have the opportunity to help other libraries achieve similar goals.”
Board president Michael Guthman said that because of Bleiweis’ “imagination, visionary thinking and ability to motivate others, our library is now recognized as one of the most innovative libraries in the world.”
She came to Westport in 1998, after serving as library director in upstate Newington for 18 years. She made her mark here in many areas, from personal interactions and customer service to programming, community involvement and technology.
She is passionate about new ways of learning, intergenerational collaboration, support for the business community and independent entrepreneurs.
Bleiweis also championed the adoption and implementation of new technologies. Under her leadership the Westport library instituted automated circulation systems, provided internet access and wireless computing, introduced 3D printing, taught programming with robotics and maintained a MakerSpace.
Her library was also one of the 1st in the nation to maintain a MakerSpace.
In 2013, the Westport Library earned a 5-star rating from The Library Journal. That year Bleiweis was asked by the State Department to host a conference of librarians visiting from Moscow. She was later invited to Russia with staff members from The Smithsonian Institute.
Bleiweis has worked in libraries for over 40 years. She says:
It has been an honor to serve the town of Westport, a place where individuals are truly committed to learning, culture, and coming together for the betterment of the community.
It is this commitment, the generosity of donors and volunteers, and our gifted staff that have made the success we achieved possible. I am confident that this team and this community will continue to expand and grow the Westport Library into the extraordinary place it will be in the future.
For nearly 2 decades Maxine Bleiweis has been the library director that most towns only dream of. She has made our library into a true community jewel, for Westporters (and others) of all ages. We will miss her greatly.
Fortunately, in her new consultant role, we can call on her whenever we need to. As the Westport Library heads into its next era — with physical expansion in the works — this gifted librarian will continue to help us stay informed, connected, and proud.