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Groundbreaking Ceremony Public Speeches

Canton Public Library

Sunday, June 23, 2002


Betty Chelmow

John Connolly

George T. Comeau

Mark Lague









Text of introductory remarks and speech given by Betty Chelmow, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Canton Public Library


Good Afternoon. What a day this is!

Representative Galvin, Senator Joyce, Congressman Lynch, Director of Library Communications Gray, Members of the Board of Selectman, distinguished guests, patrons, staff, and Friends of the Canton Public Library.

My name is Betty Chelmow; I am Chairman of the Board of Trustees. It is my pleasure to welcome you, on behalf of the Board, to this remarkable day in the life of this historic building. When in 1998 we asked the Town" To Imagine the Possibilities," they did, and therefore, this day truly belongs to all of us.

Today marks both an and end and a beginning to our renovation and expansion project. The design and development phase, which required the support of so many gathered today, will come to an end. We say good bye to the building, as we knew it, and move on to our temporary home at Draper Mills on Washington Street.

We have waited more than twenty years for this day. We have passed muster at Town Meeting and at the ballot box. With your collective generosity, we have raised almost $400,000 to help defray the cost of this project to the Town. This past week the library received the largest individual gift in this century and the second largest gift ever, from the Estate of former Trustee Ed Bolster. Ed, no doubt, is also responsible for the good weather we enjoy today. In addition, the project is due to receive $2.5 million dollars from the Massachusetts Library Construction Act.

The trustees know that Canton's overwhelming support for this project is truly recognition of the daily hard work and service of our library staff under the direction of Mark Lague.

The move and relocation alone have required intense preparation, attention to detail, and hours of toil from each and every member of the library staff. The Board wishes to acknowledge our deep appreciation for the staff's dedication and the many hours of hard work that have made this all possible. Would the staff please rise, so that we can offer a well earned round of applause.

Today, at long last, the construction phase of this project begins. We ask you to join with us in celebration. This is our ceremonial groundbreaking to be shared with the children of Canton, who will participate in their own Kid Dig. We know the library is unique in that it serves all the citizen's of Canton and will continue to do that, once again, in a few short weeks from the Draper Annex.

Most important the Trustees continue their pledge to the citizens of Canton to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility and will diligently oversee the construction phase of this project along with Chairman, Robert McCarthy and the Building Renovation Committee.

We are pleased today to announce the kick off of the next phase of our fundraising efforts. Our new entrance to library will have a brick path such as the one that is before you, filled with bricks that you may purchase, that will commemorate the next 100 years of the Canton Public Library.

It is now my pleasure to introduce:
John Connelly, Chairman, Board of Selectman
Representative William Galvin, Honorary Chairman Canton Public Library Building Committee, distinguished former trustee, and friend.
Senator Brian Joyce
David L. Gray, Director of Communications and Public Information, presenting the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
Congressman Stephen Lynch.

Because no project of this magnitude is ever easy, the next two speakers have been particularly instrumental in making this day possible.

Mark Lague, our Library Director, an author of Canton's Massachusetts Library Grant, has attended to every detail in every phase of this process. His gentle leadership and broad knowledge is truly impressive. Mark has earned the respect of the entire community for the way he has undertaken this project.

George Comeau, our Chairman of the Building Committee brought to the task incredible experiences and service from the many town boards and commissions on which he has served. He also brought a sense of history, civic responsibility, and a passion for whatever he under takes. George has helped make this entire process an enormous pleasure.

In closing, we once again extend to you our deepest appreciation for your
support in making today a reality. It has been a long time coming.

I'd also like to thank Nancy Mark and Liz Parker and all the volunteers for helping to arrange today's events. It is also fitting to recognize the leadership of Jim Egan of the Bank of Canton and Jim Salah of the Salah Foundation. We are also grateful to the banks of Canton for making today's celebration possible. A special thanks to Mrs. Debbie Kreutch, President of the Canton Cooperative Bank, Mrs. Jeannette Arlock, Business Development Officer of the Randolph Savings Bank, and finally the Brockton Savings Bank for your friendship and support of the library and the people of Canton. Your support is genuinely appreciated and acknowledged with gratitude.

At the conclusion of my remarks, the Trustees will ask you to join them near the stone wall as we prepare to break ground for our new addition and begin the restoration of this historic building.

Following the groundbreaking, the children and their parents will walk to the Children's Entrance to begin the Kid Dig. In addition, we invite all of you to walk through the library, to say good bye to the old building, and to inscribe your name and perhaps a message on our Memory Wall.

Lastly I'd like to introduce and ask them to stand, our Architect Richard Smith and Project Manager Engineer Ed Bourget from Burt Hill Kosar Rittleman, and Executive Project Manager John Brait from BBC, our general contractors. Ladies and gentleman, please take this opportunity to speak with them about the project and get some idea of the dimensions of the new building. This will help you better understand and appreciate the scope of this project and what it will mean to the Town of Canton.
We invite you to join us for refreshments, which will be served inside the library.

Thank you all for coming and let's celebrate together.

Speech by Selectman John Connolly, Chairman

Good Afternoon-

It is with great honor and pleasure that I stand here today on behalf of the Canton Board of Selectman, Mrs Avril Elkort, Mr Victor DelVecchio and myself to participate in this ground breaking ceremony for the Canton Public Library's long awaited renovation and expansion project.

I would like to take this time to say thank-you to the library board of Trustees, library director Mr Mark Lague and all the dedicated employees of the Canton Public Library. I would also like to thank former selectman George F Jenkins Jr for his support of this project over the years. But, most importantly I would also like to take the time to say thank you to the people of Canton who have supported this project both at Town Meeting, and at the ballot box.

I would also like to thank all the many businesses, individuals and families who have contributed financially to this project.

I say thank you to all who have worked so hard. And to all who were so dedicated to this project from the beginning. I'm sure I can honestly say that all who have dared to dream this renovation and expansion project have now seen there dream become a reality. The old saying goes "be careful for what you wish for, because you just may get it". It also just goes to show you hard work really does pay off.

I would also say that we stand here today in front of a building that just celebrated its 100th birthday, but more important we look forward to the next 100 years, and we do so with a goal and a focus, that this library will be home for the next generation our children.

This library has many fond memories for my myself and my family. My mother took us here and I remember bringing home my very first book in the early 1960's. "From one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish from there to hear from here to there funny things are everywhere" by Dr. Suess.

That's why today I wear this tie in Honor of the Canton Public Library.

Again on behalf of all the people of the Town of Canton I say thank you and Good Luck to all who have made this long awaited dream a reality.----Thank you

Text of speech given at the Canton Public Library Groundbreaking Ceremonies

by Trustee George T. Comeau, Chairman of the Library Building Committee

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Good afternoon and welcome to our very special event. We are delighted you could be here to help us break ground for our new library addition. This is a very significant addition to this community and a very important expansion for our historic building.

I am honored to be a part of this momentous day. It has been more than 39 years since we last laid shovel to earth on this site for the 1963 addition. And, exactly 100 years ago (almost to the day) the original building that you see here was completed. At that time it was Augustus Hemenway, our benefactor, who bought the land, designed the building, hired the architect, and engaged the contractor. The year was 1902; and our benefactor spent $70,000, a sum that would be the equivalent of $1.5 million today. This remarkable gift to the people of Canton was made in the form of a deed for the land, building and furnishings. Today 100 years later we thank the family of Augustus Hemenway. Please join me in welcoming our honored guest, Augustus Hemenway, the grandson of our most generous benefactor.

Chicago architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham summed up the attitude at the turn of the last century: "Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood." And indeed, for Canton at the turn of the 19th Century, Augustus Hemenway made no small plan, for this is a building that has served thousands of Canton's sons and daughters. Inside these walls live adventures, mysteries, thrillers and travelogues. The rooms inside this building have been dedicated to knowledge, the arts, history, science and literature and more importantly as a free public library for the people of Canton.

Your board of trustees has been quietly working for more than 20 years on the current expansion project. Through the support of the community work began in earnest five years ago upon the commission of a master building plan for the addition and restoration. As the years have passed, you have been with us as we planned this new building, as we raised money, as we lobbied town meeting, as we passed an override, as we struggled with increased funding. You are the critical link in our realizing this new building.

Through all our planning and preparation we are strengthened by the promise that our community will be improved and our children will have a new and adequate space in which to discover wizards and kings, rabbits and frogs and the possibilities of the universe. 100 years ago when Augustus Hemenway completed this grand library, Beatrix Potter was publishing her first animal stories, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Reading is as important now as it was then. As we fast forward to today where a wizard boy named Harry has captivated millions of readers the world over even in our digital age we find comfort in the turning of pages. To attest to this fact, there are 8 dog-eared copies of the trials and tribulations of young Harry and his adventures that us muggles can enjoy from the children's room. I am assured that they fly off the shelves faster than a quiditch broom can sweep a golden snitch. During the planning phases I was fond of saying that in order to put Harry Potter on the shelves, we needed to remove Beatrix Potter. When this new building opens, there will be a place for both Potters on our shelves.

In the age of the Internet the public library has never been more relevant. Our digital town square will continue to be a gathering space of ideas, culture and knowledge. Access to technology and knowledge management is key to our new literacy in the information age. This new building will embrace information architecture in a significant way.

We live in a time of change and transition. And if the dark days of this past September have any positive light, it is that they have brought us closer to our families, neighbors and friends. Finding comfort in the associations of community has been key to the success of this project and of this building.
Libraries are a beacon for liberty; liberty of expression, liberty of creativity and the liberty of ideas. The library as a gathering place where citizens can come together and learn from each other is a precious and timely gift. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Be a little careful about your library. Do you foresee what you will do with it? Very little to be sure. But the real question is, what it will do with you? You will come here and get books that will open your eyes, and your ears, and your curiosity, and turn you inside out or outside in."

I wish to say a special word to the staff of our library. For many of you, life is about to be incredibly disrupted as construction begins at this historic building. Earlier this week you moved more than 100,000 books in less than 4 days. Hang in there, and please know that the extra effort the next year will require is deeply appreciated by all who rely on you to keep the libraries user friendly and functionally strong. Let us acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our town employees, volunteers and friends. This building will be made up of many bricks, but the mortar that holds together this building is made up of people who love and care for all that is represented by this structure.

I am proud to be associated with this project. The product of vision and dedication, it will make our lives fuller, richer and more fulfilling. We are beginning today a new chapter in the history of the town of Canton and of this great institution. As we break ground on this historic site, we begin to fulfill our promise to each other, our children and the generations to come.

Thank you.


Remarks by Library Director Mark Lague

To the members of the Library staff in the audience, you’ve heard my promises for the last five years; today I can definitely say "Yes this is really going to happen".

I am so grateful to all of you who have sustained your support and participation in this project for these many years. Through your votes, your financial contributions, your volunteer efforts and your continuous encouragement you have well served the past, present and future of this community. There are so many individuals that I would wish to publicly acknowledge that, once begun, the task would extend well beyond our endurance. Fortunately, it is the concerted efforts made in a spirit of community that better explains the success of this project.

It begins with the library staff, you have accepted the challenges of disruption and change and adapted with good humor and grace. No matter how well designed a building we may erect, you define the character of the Library, and how well it serves the interests and concerns of Canton. This past week you worked tirelessly and in concert, to accomplish the estimated two-week relocation in six days, earning the admiration and astonishment of the movers themselves. I am grateful for the best staff of any library around.

I am grateful for the hundreds of Friends and volunteers through whose concerted efforts we enjoyed such community events as the Library Auction and the Teddy Bear Family Picnic that helped to defray the costs of the building project. You will be rewarded with the opportunity to develop the programming potential of the new building and further extend your community of creative and generous spirits.

I am grateful for this Board of Library Trustees, and Building Committee Members for providing me the support I need to fill my role. Each of you has contributed in your own way to orchestrate and conduct this project with perseverance and commitment. Some of you have been there from the beginning, like Betty Chelmow, and Marcia Connors, others arrived just when we needed them most. Today, all other Boards in Town know that when the Library is on the meeting agenda, extra chairs will be needed, because all Trustees show up. Concerted efforts.

But I need to mention one individual whose contributions to this project I am certain no one close to it would disagree have meant more than anyone’s. If George Comeau did not exist, I would need to invent him. Thank you George for your sharing your knowledge in so many areas connected to this project, and especially for always being ready to speak at any venue and at any time. Although you came to this project after the conceptual plans were drawn, I am grateful that we soon discovered that we shared much the same vision for the Library in the Second Century. You kept us all aware of the significance and historical context of this project well beyond ourselves.

Groundbreaking ceremonies like all social rituals, are meant to connect individuals to a community, and present communities to the their past and future. This groundbreaking is special in that it is a groundbreaking for a public library, an institution that itself serves to build community, that through literature and cultural programs creates historical connections, and embodies our faith in a better future. This groundbreaking is more than special in that it is our own community Library, and we have in this, our time, connected our past and our future.

I am grateful to be part of the concerted efforts of the entire community in this historic renovation and expansion of the Canton Public Library. I look forward to realizing the possibilities we have until now only imagined. Thank you for making it really happen.

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