SOUTHINGTON - Board members and employees of the Southington Public Library honored Sue Smayda Wednesday for 11 years of enthusiastic work as executive director. Her last day will be June 22.
Smayda’s co-workers filled a guestbook with hand-written farewell messages and thanked her for her many years of service to the library. Smayda began her tenure as executive director in February 2007 and said her focus over the years has been to expand civic engagement and programs.
“I think my biggest accomplishment was getting the library more engaged with the community,” said Smayda. “From our candidate forums to our yearly Southington Reads event, which brings a big name author to the Aqua Turf Club, we have seen a lot of participation in these events. Five hundred people came to see author Wally Lamb speak. We’ve also tried to offer a lot of smaller program from adult coloring three times a week to knitting and crocheting twice a week. People can get together and meet with each other in social environments and do something creative.”
Smayda said that when she retires, she plans to “kick back and relax” and then do some volunteer work for different groups. She plans to help organize the music library at her church, Plantsville Congregational Church.
Smayda said she wishes her successor well, whoever it will be.
“We have a spectacular, supportive staff here at the library,” she said. “I’m sure that they will be very helpful in moving things forward. One thing that I hope that my successor is able to achieve is to push for renovations at the library that will allow for more space and bring us up to code. I did all that I could to try to get that done and now I’m passing the torch.”
Mary Ellen D’Angelo, chairwoman of the library board, said Smayda was “wonderful” to work with.
“It will be very hard to find someone to take her place,” said D’Angelo. “Her talents are multi-faceted.”
Pat Kraut, another library board member, said Smayda was a “fabulous” director.
“She is innovative, creative and does a lot with the community,” she said.
Walter Grove, also a library board member, said that in the time he worked with Smayda, he “loved her energy.”
“She will certainly leave big shoes to fill,” he said.
Doris LaRese, founder of the local Friends of the Library, hugged Smayda and presented her with a crocheted pillow decorated with library books.
Board member Fran Meade praised the many innovative programs Smayda brought to the library.
“She was always super positive when working with us, especially with all of my crazy ideas,” said Molly Virello, children’s librarian. “It was nice to have someone so supportive as your big boss.”
Marie Secondo, curator of The Barnes Museum, praised Smayda for her work as executive director of the museum as well.
“She was an outstanding director with a lot of integrity and she was a great mentor to me,” said Secondo. “I was so proud when she was hired on as executive director of the library. She will be sorely missed.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.