More than 400 of Maxine Bleiweis’s closest friends packed the Westport Library tonight, to bid a fond farewell to their favorite library director.
From the Maker Space (“people thought I’d lost my mind when I brought that in,” Maxine joked) to the tables where puzzles and chess sets often entice users, boldface names and “regular” patrons sat together — as they always do there. All were united in their love of the library, and the leader who is leaving after 17 years.
Like Beyoncé or Pele, Maxine needs only one name. And like those superstars, she is one of a kind.
Maxine does it all.
Dianne Wildman expressed the sentiments of many in the crowd.
Tech guru David Pogue — who joked that Maxine got him involved in the Westport Library even before he moved from Stamford — performed an original (and never-to-be-heard again) number: “The Bleiweis Zone.”
A small part of the large crowd tonight. Some stood on the balcony above.
New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz presented Maxine with a special gift (see below).
Shortz’s gift was a word game, in which every 2-word answer starts with the letters “MB.” Each includes a circled letter. When read in order, you’ll never guess what they spell!
Westport’s state legislators Jonathan Steinberg, Tony Hwang and Gail Lavielle were in the house (Toni Boucher was also there, meeting a constituent). Steinberg presented Maxine with a proclamation signed by “a governor who tried to cut library funding.” Hwang praised her for educating him on the vital importance of public libraries.
Maxine said that she was almost speechless — in English. So instead she pronounced herself “verklempt.”