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Grand Opening at Webster’s new Gladys E. Kelly Public Library

By Janet Stoica

The bright and crisp fall date brought more than 100 well-wishers to the front lawn of the new Gladys E. Kelly Public Library on September 29. The grand opening ceremony’s speakers included former and current state representatives as well as a representative from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. Bartlett High School’s choir led off the festivities with their singing of the national anthem and the Pulaski Brass Band played spirited tunes.

“This is a true honor,” said Marilyn Fels, whose mother, Gladys E. Kelly, is memorialized with the new library’s name. “I feel very humbled to have my mother’s name on our new public library. My family and I are very happy and this is a momentous occasion.”

Tamara Beland of local radio station, Lake 940 AM, welcomed volunteers, trustees, and staff to the event. “We’re so proud of this community in making this library happen,” she said. Ms. Beland thanked former State Senator Richard Moore for securing 75% of the library’s funding and then introduced Jean Travis, president of the library trustees. “It’s been a long haul,” Mrs. Travis stated. “Thank you to Gerald and Marilyn Fels and to everyone who donated to make this happen; every dollar made a difference.”

Guests at the Kelly Library Grand Opening 

So what’s coming soon to the new Gladys E. Kelly Library? It’s one of the many new services offered to local users of the state-of-the-art facility. The Hoopla e-book service is unique in that there will be no wait times and no set times for downloading the latest e-book to your Kindle, Nook, Cybook, iTomic, or any other type of e-book device. Downloaders will pay by usage. There will also be similar downloading capabilities for music and movies.

Numerous supporters and guests in the crowd included former Webster library director Joseph Rodio, Jr.  During his tenure in Webster from 2003-2006, Mr. Rodio was instrumental in lighting the flame for what became a truly wonderful reality for Webster’s citizens. “I grew up in Webster and used the Chester Corbin Library frequently,” said Mr. Rodio. “As a kid, I remember biking to the place, picking out books to read, and then carrying them home but not before a stop at Gene Cyr’s store to buy penny candy. My family enjoyed everything the library had to offer. When I became library director in 2003, I could see that the beautiful building had fallen on hard times, it needed handicapped access and rooms for teens, children, and local history.” From these humble beginnings, a planning and design grant was sent to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

“My part was small in the big scheme of things,” said Mr. Rodio, “I was able to hand off the commencement of our project to the next library director, Lee Ann Amend, who worked with an architect on the next steps. Carrie Grimshaw, the following library director, wrote the new library’s construction grant. Everyone realized it was time to take the next step. We saw the new Oxford and Dudley libraries and how their new buildings revitalized their local citizens.” Mr. Rodio praised current library director Amanda Grenier and trustee Jean Travis. “Amanda Grenier did all the heavy lifting at crunch time, keeping the coalition of friends, trustees, and townspeople aware—it was no easy feat. Amanda and Jean made a formidable pair in moving this new library forward. It was great. It was nice to see how it all came together and what a grand reward for them. Hopefully, the Gladys E. Kelly Library will serve the town well for another 100 years. The Fels family must be wholeheartedly thanked too. They were always there for us, providing moral and financial support.” 

 Bartlett High School Choir

Grateful thanks must also be given to the Friends of the Library, Library Board of Trustees, and Webster citizens for standing tall in their quest to see this beautiful building rise to its height and dominance for the benefit of all local residents.

From the simple quote of author Ray Bradbury: “Libraries raised me” to the words of writer Samuel Niger: “A good library is a place, a palace where the lofty spirits of all nations and generations meet,” the new Gladys E. Kelly Public Library is a thing of beauty inside and out. It is the great equalizer, its uses are many, its patrons are poor and rich but the one thing we all have in common is the thirst for education. You will find that and more at one of the greatest new resources in the revitalized and ever-changing town of Webster. Check it out. Gladys E. Kelly Public Library, 2 Lake Street, Webster. Phone: 508- 949-3880. Hours: Mon/Tues/Thurs 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Wed 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Fri 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.