Kemp Memorial Aids Library Rehab  
Thursday, April 3, 2003
April 3 Telegram & Gazette
So I've Heard Column

Public service could take a new twist for the Chester C. Corbin Public Library Board of Trustees.
The panel "might try to get a fundraiser going" to rehabilitate the children's department, says Chairman Eleanor P. Doros. If they do, it will be their first general appeal in decades, and maybe in the history of the town library.
Ms. Doros, Webster's acting town treasurer, says the juvenile facility resembles something out of the 1930s. It actually opened July 3, 1921, almost 82 years ago. An early photograph suggest it hasn't changed that much.
Trustees used $5,000 from the library's new books appropriation to bring some 21st century reading into the children's room. "We've even got some in Spanish," Ms. Doros said.
The rehab proposal, floated after trustees took a hard look at the children's facility, is awaiting an estimate by Deborah D. Delorey of Worcester. "She's with a company that deals in library restorations," chairman Doros says. "We've got a lot of ideas, we want a section for the little ones, a place for the slightly older ones, and some room where children can do homework."
This is a tall order, Ms. Doros admits. "There's not a lot of square footage in there." An addition to the old facility would be ideal but this is wishful thinking, given the current state of the economy. Trustees are toying with an appeal because town taxpayers have a lot on their needs plate at the moment.
Genesis to the appeal plan dates to last year when resident Bradford J. Kemp went unannounced into the library and donated a significant sum of money in memory of his late wife, Josephine (Stillman) Kemp. A little plaque was all Mr. Kemp expected. Knowledge that he had contributed something in honor of his beloved Josephine was all the ceremony he required.
Trustees, through member James A. Chauvin, responded to Mr. Kemp's kindness by setting off an extension to the front stairwell. They prevailed on Mr. Kemp and he gave them a small pair of wooden shoes that little Josephine Stillman played with as a child.
They're in a small wall unit, fixed to the memorial plaque. The six or so feet of wall space was painted a light blue, the late Mrs. Kemp's favorite color, and railroad lithographs were placed on the sidewall. The scenes by noted illustrator Theodore A. Xaras tie to the corner because they were an earlier gift by Mr. Kemp, a railroad enthusiast.
While they've tried to brighten the children's department by adding children's works, decades of simply making do have caught up with the facility, says Ms. Doros. Trustee Kimberly Canty suggested the addition of school art, and pupils at the nearby Anthony J. Sitkowski School responded. Some of their pieces brighten the children's entry, thanks to the attention of Sandra Robillard, the art teacher at the school.
Trustees hope to get a state grant, and use the Josephine Kemp memorial as start-up funding. Everything new--carpeting to illumination, books to shelving, foldaway furnishings to a computer network, shades and windows--will cost a minimum of $100,000, and maybe a lot more. While the Board of Trustees wants to do something for Webster's young readers, even to a fund appeal, they need a lot of encouragement--and more contributions.
Addressing another matter, Ms. Doros says trustees haven't had any luck in finding a state certified library director. "We had a candidate we liked and seemed on our way but he suffered some kind of disability and had to withdraw," says Ms. Doros.
Gerald P. Deary, a retired school administrator, has served as acting library director since Daniel Lekas resigned late last year. "He's been a blessing," says Ms. Doros. "I think he enjoys the library and we're certainly very happy to have him."
Richard E. Krommer picked up on a recurring theme last week--the World War II Air Warning Service station at Webster's Athletic Field
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