Category Archives: Library

Here’s The State Of Westport

The state of the town is strong.

The state of our schools is too.

Those verdicts were delivered by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Board of Education chair Candice Savin yesterday.

A large, inquisitive crowd packed the Westport Library. The 3rd annual State of the Town meeting was sponsored by our 2 Rotary Clubs.

Marpe began by citing 2 newly improved facilities: the library itself, and the Senior Center.

He also mentioned that Westport has the highest life expectancy in Connecticut, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Our neighborhood averages range from 82 years all the way to 89 (Old Hill area). Who knew?!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe, at yesterday’s “State of the Town” meeting.

Among the 2019 accomplishments, Marpe pointed to:

  • New accessibility projects at Compo beach, and environmentally friendly turf fields
  • Wakeman Town Farm improvements
  • Sasco Brook’s de-listing from the state register of impaired waterways
  • The town’s new mobile-friendly website
  • The Police Department’s innovative technology and equipment, including increased capability to respond in a crisis, and the groundbreaking Tesla 3 patrol car
  • Improvement projects at our 2 railroad stations
  • A 7% decline in Fire Department 911 calls, in large part due to proactive efforts in schools and the construction industry

The Westport Fire Department has made a determined effort to educate Westporters about fire safety.

  • Ongoing investments to upgrade commercial properties downtown and on the Post Road
  • 3rd Selectwoman Melissa Kane’s leadership of improved town wayfinding
  • 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker’s leadership of the “Westport Means Business” series
  • Commitment to be a NetZero community by 2050; rebranding “Sustainable Westport”; the RTM’s legislation on replacing single-use plastics; adding new solar energy capacity; switching 1,300 street lights to LED bulbs, and a “Zero Food Waste Challenge,” which includes a free pilot program for dropping off food waste at the transfer station (beginning April 1).
  • Consolidation of police, fire and EMS public safety dispatch centers with Fairfield
  • Automating building and land use processes with the Planning & Zoning, Building, Conservation, Public Works, Health District and Fire departments.

Building in Westport is becoming easier, with enhanced communication among town bodies. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)

Of course, there are challenges. Marpe mentioned:

  • Traffic. He, the police and Public Works are scheduling RTM district public meetings to identify practical, realistic solutions.
  • Affordable housing. We have 3 years left on our moratorium under the 8-30g state statute.
  • The need to enhance Longshore, and other town facilities
  • Keeping the tax mill rate flat, as it has been for about 5 years. Marpe noted that financial reserves are at or ahead of “our conservative targets,” and that pension and post-employment benefit assets are “very well-funded.”

Marpe concluded his prepared remarks by noting:

Westport is and will continue to be among the most attractive towns in the tri-state area to raise a family, educate children, create and grow a business, and retire.

We are a truly rare and wonderful combination of a small, charming New England town committed to celebrating our past and preserving our history, and also a cutting-edge community that fosters innovation, creativity and progress.

Westport preserves its past and looks to the future, says 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. (Photo/John Videler for VIdeler Photography)

Board of Ed chair Savin said that the Westport School District is “strong, and getting stronger,” in areas like academics, arts, special education and athletics.

She noted the district’s focus on social and emotional health, safety and security — and combating vaping.

Among the challenges: reopening Coleytown Middle School, the budget, and the search for a new schools superintendent.

She said the board and community must “continue to invest in students, professionals and infrastructure.”

Board of Education chair Candice Savin’s presentation included slides like these, showing renovations to Coleytown Middle School.

Moderator Jeff Wieser then read questions from audience members.

Marpe was asked about his biggest budgetary challenge. “The capital forecast — school and town projects,” he said.

Regarding empty storefronts on Main Street, he pointed to new businesses coming in, along with “mom and mom” stores owned by local residents. He noted that the P&Z wants to improve efficiencies of town processes, and praised Regency Centers — owners of several large Westport shopping areas — for recent upgrades of their properties.

Marpe also said that the Downtown Merchants Association and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce are working hard to attract new businesses.

Asked about the relationship with the Westport Museum for History & Culture, the 1st selectman said that the town no longer stores records there, eliminating a $7,500 storage fee. He said that although this year the town helped fund the Museum’s First Light celebration, he was “troubled” when he realized some of the money went toward employees’ salaries.

“We are working with them to recover that portion” of the funds, he said.

However, Marpe added, “the tone of a lot of comments (on ‘06880’) were not what Westport is about. It was like cyber-bullying. I appeal to residents to step back. You’re talking about people who live down the street from you.”

Regarding traffic, Marpe said the most significant impact comes from Waze. He acknowledged frustration with timing of Post Road lights, and said the town is in “regular communication” with the state Department of Transportation.

When the highways get crowed, Waze sends drivers through Westport.

As for Joey’s at the Shore, Marpe described the town’s 30-year relationship with the former beach concessionaire. He said they parted ways “without hard feelings.” An RFP has been issued for Compo, the skating rink/pool and golf course halfway house.

Seven or eight “well qualified” responses have been received. Bids will be open this week, and Marpe is optimistic that the new concessionaire will continue Joey Romeo’s “warmth, style, sensitivity and food.” He warned though that it may not be “fully operational” by the start of beach season.

In response to Board of Ed questions, Savin said that there are contingency plans in case CMS is not ready to reopen next fall; that pushing school start times back 30 minutes for all schools will be on the February 3 and February 10 agendas, and that declining enrollment is more challenging at the middle school level (because of the team approach) than in elementary schools and Staples High.

When the meeting was over, the town officials were not through. Members of the audience continued to ask questions. Marpe and Savin kept answering them.

TEAM Westport Teen Essay Contest Tackles Stereotypes

For 6 years, TEAM Westport’s Teen Diversity Essay Contest has considered specific, newsworthy topics.

Westport students have been asked to consider — and write on — issues like micro-aggressions, the “taking a knee” controversy, white privilege, Black Lives Matter, the increasingly diverse demographics of the United States, and self-segregation in school cafeterias.

This year, the town’s diversity action committee takes a different tack.

The 2020 contest asks teenagers to address a broad — but very important — theme: stereotypes.

TEAM Westport says:

A stereotype is a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a person, frequently based on that person’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or gender-identity. Stereotypes are often unconscious and may be introduced and reinforced — intentionally or unwittingly – by many sources, including family, peers, the popular media, curricula, and society at large.

This year’s challenge states: In 1,000 words or fewer, describe your experiences witnessing, delivering, and/or being subjected to stereotypes focused on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, and describe the impact that such experiences are likely to have upon recipients. Consider steps that organizations, schools, and/or individuals could take to counteract stereotypes—whether as initiator, recipient or witness.”

“In order to dismantle bias, it’s important to first understand the factors that build bias,” says TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey.

“Stereotyping is a first step toward bias in what historians and sociologists call ‘othering’ — behavior that places the stereotyped group outside the normal considerations of society. History has proven that this can lead to dangerously impactful results.”

The entry deadline is February 28. Subject to the volume and caliber of entries received, at the discretion of the judges up to 3 cash prizes will be awarded. The first prize is $1,000; second prize is $750; third is $500.

Any student living in Westport — or attending school here — can enter.

The Westport Library is co-sponsoring the event. Winners will be announced at a ceremony there on April 2, 2020.

(For more information, including full contest rules and an application form, click here.)

Titanic Discoverer, Undersea Explorer Surfaces At Library

The 2nd “Andrew Wilk Presents…” will be fascinating.

On Thursday, February 13 (7 p.m.), Dr. Robert Ballard speaks at the Westport Library.

I was excited to interview him, for a sneak peak. In 1985 he discovered the wreck of Titanic. He’s also found the Bismarck, the lost fleet of Guadalcanal, the aircraft carrier Yorktown (sunk in the Battle of Midway), and John F. Kennedy’s PT-109.

Dr. Robert Ballard

But when I started talking about those titanic discoveries, he basically said, “Who cares?”

Ballard has bigger fish to fry.

The National Geographic Society Explorer-at-Large says his most important discoveries were of hydrothermal vents — and the exotic life forms living miles below the surface.

Basically, Ballard found the origins of life on earth. These creatures have found ways to duplicate photosynthesis without sunlight. Thanks to Ballard, we now know that life can flourish all over the universe.

He’ll talk about all that in Westport. (And Titanic too. “It’s part of the story of human history,” he realizes.)

But wait! There’s more!

Ballard is also about to embark on “the 2nd Lewis & Clark Expedition.” Of course, there are a couple of differences between this, and the one 2 centuries ago that uncovered the wonders of our still-unexplored continent.

Dr. Robert Ballard, ready to explore

For one, Ballard is going underwater. The US owns waters 200 miles from our coastline — and we’ve got a lot of coast. Including Alaska, Hawaii and all our Pacific islands like Guam, Ballard says there is as much undersea as the entire surface of the United States.

And we have no idea what minerals and species are down there.

“I’ll tell you when I find it,” Ballard says confidently.

A second difference between the 1800s and 2000s: Half of the explorers this time will be female.

“I’m calling it the Lois and Clark Expedition,” Ballard says.

So he’s not only astonishingly smart, and superbly adventurous. Ballard is also quite funny.

“Andrew Wilk Presents…” — hosted by Westport’s Emmy-winning television executive producer and director/playwright/symphony conductor — brings remarkable men and women to the library. The series kicked off last month with Michael Davie, a filmmaker who has worked on major projects for Oprah Winfrey, National Geographic, Discovery and more.

Ballard will be a compelling guest. His sense of adventure is — clearly — profound.

So I wanted to know more about what he will discover, in his upcoming exploration of our planet’s vast oceans.

“What did Lewis and Clark expect when they got in their canoes?” Ballard asked rhetorically.

“I’ll tell you when I find it.”

(Tickets for Dr. Robert Ballard’s talk with Andrew Wilk are $50 for reserved seating; $150 for VIP reception and reserved seating. Click here for tickets and more information.)

“State Of The Town” Meeting Set For Sunday

Presidents have their State of the Union addresses. Governors deliver (oddly named) “State of the State” talks.

This Sunday (January 26, 2 p.m., Westport Library), 1st Selectman Jim Marpe will discuss the “State of the Town.” He’ll be joined by Board of Education chair Candice Savin.

They’ll look back at town and school accomplishments over the past year, and preview upcoming initiatives.

There’s audience participation too. A question-and-answer session will be led by RTM deputy moderator Jeffrey Wieser.

The event is sponsored by Westport’s 2 Rotary clubs.

Youth Concert Brings China To Westport

Years ago, the Westport Youth Concert began as an opportunity to enrich students’ cultural awareness, through music.

As the school district’s emphasis on global understanding has grown, so has the Youth Concert. It’s evolved into a cross-cultural, collaborative event involving not only music, but Westport Public Schools’ visual arts and world language departments.

Outside organizations like the Westport Library, Westport Public Art Collections and PTA Cultural Arts have signed on as community partners.

A scene from last year’s Youth Concert.

This year’s event exemplifies the music department’s mission. “Music of China” features Staples High School musicians, the award-winning Middle School Percussion Ensemble, and guest artists from the New York Chinese Cultural Center. They’ll perform a lion dance and musical piece using a pipa, guzheng and erhu — with mini-lessons about each instrument.

The feature performance is Tuesday, February 4 (7 p.m., Staples auditorium). On that day, and February 6, in-school educational concerts for 3rd through 6th graders will complement the public concert.

It’s a huge undertaking. Youth Concert planning begins at the start of the school year. Coordinator Candi Innaco creates a classroom guide. It introduces the theme, and includes links to resources and classroom instruction.

Leading up to the event, teachers at Greens Farms, Long Lots and Saugatuck Elementary School had students design China-related art: hanging lanterns, wish kites, brush paintings, Ming Dynasty vases and the like.

Westport student art: Ming Dynasty vases.

All elementary music instructors are teaching the tune and lyrics to “Jasmine Flower.” At the concert, students will sing it from the audience — led by Staples’ Orphenians.

Staples’ world language department is involved too. Mandarin students will emcee the concert, and photos taken by teacher Chris Fray on his recent visit to China will be shown.

WestPAC, meanwhile, is displaying art and photography from China at their traveling pop-up galleries, at every school.

In March, the Westport Library will bring the same guest artists from the New York China Cultural Center, to perform again.

China lion dance, performed by members of the New York Chinese Cultural Center.

The public is invited to the free February 4 evening performance. For more information about this event and the Westport music program, click here.

Photo Challenge #263

No one is alive today to remember, but in 1906 the cornerstone was laid for a new Westport Public Library.

Since 1877, residents had had access to books, magazines and newspapers — contributed by their neighbors — on the 2nd floor of the Hurlbutt building on State Street (Post Road). That’s the block between Taylor Place and the entrance to the Taylor parking lot, by the river.

There were very few volumes, however. The public could check out books on Tuesdays and Fridays only.

The 1906 library was a gift from Morris K. Jesup. He donated land opposite the Hurlbutt building — near the corner of the Post Road and Main Street — plus $5,000 for construction.

Two years later — on April 8, 1908 — 300 Westporters turned out for the dedication. Morris Jesup was not there. He had died 4 months earlier.

In 1986 the library moved across Jesup Road — to landfill not there in Jesup’s day. Two renovations later, it is the pride of the town.

But back in another century, so was Jesup’s. The cornerstone still stands, though the building now houses an art gallery and other tenants. (Starbucks and Freshii are in an addition, from the 1950s.)

That cornerstone was last week’s Photo Challenge (click here to see). Dan Vener, Robert Mitchell, Tom Trisch, Christine McCarthy, Chip Stephens, John Hartwell, Elaine Marino, Bobbie Herman, Seth Schachter, Seth Goltzer, Linda Amos, Bruce Salvo, Susan Huppi and Mary Ann Batsell all knew exactly what the photo showed.

You could look it up. But they didn’t have to.

As for this week’s Photo Challenge, here’s a hint: It has nothing to do with a library. Obviously.

(Photo/Susan Ross)

If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

Westport Means Business

Those are not just words. “Westport Means Business” is the name of an ongoing series of events bringing together local business owners — and those who hope to be — to share, learn from and support each other.

“Westport Means Business” is about connections, not competition.

Last year’s inaugural session included Julie Fountain and Dana Noorily, founders of The Granola Bar; Jamie Camche, longtime owner of JL Rocks jewelry store, and Kitt Shapiro, whose 2-year-old West is already an established downtown presence.

The next event is tomorrow (Thursday, January 9, 7 p.m., Westport Library Forum; networking begins at 6:30 p.m.).

Panelists include Bill Taibe, executive chef and owner of The Whelk, Kawa Ni and Jesup Hall; JoyRide’s CEO and co-owner Becky Cerroni and co-founder and chief brand officer Amy Hochhauser, and Maria Pooya, founder and CEO of Greenwich Medical Spa.

All are local residents. All own multiple-location businesses. All are very different. But their focus on community, generosity and success crosses all boundaries.

Last year’s topic — “Jumping Off” — explored the moment the women decided to start their own businesses. This year it’s “Lessons Learned”: sharing advice on what to do — and not do.

Jen Tooker — Westport’s 2nd selectman, whose portfolio includes speaking with local business owners — will once again moderate. As she did last year, she will encourage panelists to tell their stories.

And suggest what our town can do better, to help local businesses.

Tooker says that feedback she’s heard falls in 3 general areas. One is that we have a successful and vibrant local business community. But owners want ways to meet, learn from, challenge, support and cross-promote each other.

Another is that among our many talented residents, many men and women are looking to start second, third, even fourth careers. How can we capitalize on this talent pool, and connect them with others who have already started businesses?

A third area is that Connecticut has a reputation of being anti-business. How can we turn this narrative around, and highlight our diverse, vibrant business community?

“I’m inspired by every local business owner I meet,” Tooker says. “I can’t wait to continue celebrating our business community. We’re partnering with the Westport Library on this, and are working together with the herculean efforts of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Merchants Association. Just as we want Westport to be a great place to live and raise a family, it can also be a great place to start and grow a business.”

“Westport Means Business” plans 3 panels this year, and monthly podcasts.

Thursday’s event is free, and open to all. Pre-registration is not mandatory, but click here for a link so that organizers can get a sense of numbers.

Longshore Kids’ Wall Resurfaces At Library

Nearly 20 years ago, 1,400 Westport middle school students created what is believed to be the largest piece of public art in Fairfield County.

Designed by students in their art classrooms — with help from noted artists Katherine Ross and Miggs Burroughs — the “Kids’ Wall” rose 8 feet high, and stretched 44 feet wide.

Costing $18,000 — donated by dozens of individuals and organizations — it included 1,500 pounds of tile and adhesive, 1,000 pounds of “Wonder Board” (tile backing), and 200 pounds of grout.

There are 64 panels, 500 pieces of broken tile, and other objects on each panel. That’s 32,000 individual pieces on the mural, give or take a few.

Each panel was completed in one 50-minute art class. There were 64 classes, covering every 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grader in town.

The Kids’ Wall, at Longshore.

The approval process took 2 years. The Planning & Zoning Commission, Architectural Review Board, Parks & Recreation Department, Public Works, Police Department, Conservation Commission, RTM, Arts Advisory Council and Board of Selectmen all weighed in

Finally, it was done. The Kids’ Wall was unveiled near the Longshore pool on May 28, 2000.

It’s still there.

But it’s also at the Westport Library.

Just inside the upper parking lot entrance, there’s an exhibit celebrating the 20th anniversary. It includes a 1/3-scale banner of the wall, plus newspaper stories and more.

The Kids’ Wall exhibit at the library.(From left): Artists Miggs Burroughs and Katherine Ross; outgoing Library exhibits director Chris Timmons; incoming exhibits director Carol Erger-Fass.

Somehow, this enormous public art project never got the publicity it deserved. If you go to the Longshore pool or sailing school, you see it.

But no one else does — or even knows about it.

The “transformed” library opened 3 months ago. Perhaps this exhibit will transform the little-known Kids’ Wall into an artistic treasure, known far and wide.

Or at least beyond Longshore.

KIDS’ WALL BONUS: Click below for a video on the making of the mural:

Mo Rocca, Jeff Pegues Team Up As Library’s Newsmakers

Last year, Jeff Pegues arrived early for a book signing.

The 1988 Staples High School graduate — who rose through the broadcast ranks and is now CBS News justice/homeland security correspondent — had published his second book,  Kompromat: How Russia Undermined American Democracy.

He sat in his car at the Saugatuck Congregational Church, watching dozens of people arrive. It was a bigger crowd than in many major cities.

“I was humbled, and struck by how many Westporters are interested in information beyond the headlines,” Pegues says.

“That’s not always the case. And it troubles me.”

When the Westport Library — which had sponsored his talk off-site, during its renovation project — wrote a thank-you note, he started thinking what more he could do.

He’s a fan of New York’s 92nd Street Y, which sponsors a long-running, provocative speakers’ series.

Jeff Pegues

Pegues lives in Washington, DC. But his hometown — and hometown library — retain strong holds on him.

Would the library be interested in a series of interview/conversations with intriguing newsmakers? he wondered.

Would we ever! replied executive director Bill Harmer.

With a generous donation from Christian J. and Eva W. Trefz, the Newsmakers Series kicks off on Saturday, January 25 (7 p.m.). The first guest is Mo Rocca, noted CBS News correspondent, podcaster and TV personality.

It takes place in the soaring Forum — which, thanks to a previous $1 million gift, already bears the Trefz name.

Quarterly events are planned. Pegues will help bring intellectuals, foreign policy experts, politicians, actors, artists, athletes and other newsmakers to Westport — and will moderate each. His job is to help the audience “understand who they really are.”

Pegues is enthusiastic about the project.

“The library is a destination for ideas,” he notes. “And it’s important for newsmakers to come to a town with so many influential people.”

As a journalist, he notes, he often asks questions like “how did you get here?” What, for example, motivated the child of a single mom in Akron to not only become a basketball superstar, but to speak out about topics most athletes would not touch?

LeBron James would be a perfect candidate for a Trefz Newsmaker evening, Pegues says.

Mo Rocca

Rocca — the first interviewee — has “a unique take on people,” Pegues says. “He has an incredible ability to mix news judgment with a comedic touch.”

Rocca’s resume includes 4 seasons each with “The Daily Show” and Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show”; the “Mobituaries” podcast and book (an irreverent but well-researched appreciation of intriguing things past), and current gigs on both “CBS Sunday Morning” and NPR’s “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”

He’s won 2 Emmy Awards — one fewer than Pegues.

“Westporters should have access to people like Mo,” Pegues says. “They want clarity and insights.”

He looks forward to helping provide it — in a place that is particularly meaningful to him.

“Westport is a huge part of my upbringing,” Pegues says. “My parents moved here in the late 1970s for 2 reasons: the minnybus, and the library.”

The townwide transportation system — whose hub was Jesup Green — is long gone.

In 1986, the library moved to its new location, next to the green. A few months ago, it reopened in a transformed, 21st-century way.

Next month, Jeff Pegues helps the Westport Library become even more special and vibrant than it already is.

(General admission tickets for the 1st Trefz Newsmakers Series on January 25 are $35, and include a copy of Mo Rocca’s “Mobituaries” book. VIP tickets are $100, and include a private reception with Rocca, and preferred seating in the Forum. Click here for tickets.)

Book Chat: Old Club Invigorates New Library

Longtime Westporter Nina Sankovitch is an environmental lawyer. She is also an author (her new book, “American Rebels: How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution” comes out in March).

For the last 5 years too, Nina has moderated Westport Library Book Chat discussions. She loves her volunteer job — and wants “06880” readers to know all about it. Nina writes:

There is so much in the new Westport Library. Author talks and musical productions; the gift shop with its array of eclectic book-inspired offerings; the new café, a great place to grab a coffee and meet a friend.

Budding fashionistas are welcome to use the sewing room; would-be podcasters can hone their skills in the audio production studio; inventors create in the Makers Space, and the huge screen in the Great Hall means that events like the impeachment hearings and election night can be shared experiences, not suffered through alone at home.

But what brings me to the library on the first Tuesday of every month, at 10 a.m. sharp, is the Book Chat.

Book Chatters chat about books.

It’s not new. We have been meeting for 10 years now, 12 times a year, and our purpose has not changed. We talk about the very best the Westport Library has to offer: books.

Books of all kinds, every genre, published in every era, written by writers from around the world. We don’t meet to talk about a specific book; we to talk about any books we’ve read lately. We talk about books we’ve loved,  books we hated, books we want others to read and know about.

I’ve been attending Book Chat since its inception in the summer of 2009 (when it was known as “Stop and Swap”). Some of us original book chatters are still around, and we welcome all newcomers.

There is no assigned reading for Book Chat, no requirement to participate – but although people show up claiming they just want to listen, after 15 minutes the newcomer’s hand comes up and an opinion is offered.

Nina Sankovitch, in a favorite pose. (Photo by Douglas Healey/New York Times)

People who read books tend to want to talk about them. We share our thoughts on the quality of the writing, or how satisfying (or not) the ending was. We also talk about what the book meant to us, and why we think someone else might love (or hate) it as much as we did.

Book Chat is a drop-in group. Some members attend every single month; others come when they can.

The range of reading interests represented is vast. We have people who love memoirs, and others who favor history but will read poetry. We have mystery and romance lovers, and those who read only literary fiction. We have those who read religious tomes and others who read religious theory (there is a difference).

We have those who prefer classics and those who want to read anything new. What is great about the variety of tastes is that I hear about books I might never have even considered reading.

Thirty to 40 books are discussed at each meeting/ I always come away with new titles to add to my list. This month they include Noon Wine, Ordinary Grace. Outline and Cautionary Tales for Children.

In my 10 years of Book Chat participation, I have seen that our group mirrors the community at large. We may not always agree on books – or politics, social issues, or even the best room in which to meet. But we are always respectful of each other, always kind and generous. We let everyone talk, and we listen. Our shared love of books not only brings us together, but is celebrated. Our common humanity is recognized.

I will always remember the story told by one of our cherished members, of how he wooed his girlfriend in college by reading aloud to her the stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Of course she married this treasure of a man – and they went on to share years of reading aloud to each other.

But only he attended our Book Chat meetings. He was the half of the couple who wished to talk about books. So he came, we talked, and we all swooned when he told the story of his college romance.

When we left at the end of the hour we felt connected, invigorated and more positive about the world – for having shared with each other the books we love.

Every time I attend Book Chat I come away with that great feeling of both belonging and participating.Book Chat is a vestige of the old library taking root in the new. I am grateful for being part of it all.