A longtime welcoming presence at the Stonington Free Library (SFL), Director Belinda de Kay has announced her plans to retire. Belinda joined the Library over 30 years ago as a part time circulation staff member, becoming Assistant Director and ultimately Director in 2015. After spending the past 2+ years overseeing major construction and renovation projects, Belinda says that this is the perfect moment to make a transition in leadership that has been planned for some time: “Now that these projects are completed, the Library will be moving forward into a whole new chapter in its history. We need younger energy and 21st Century skills to lead the Library, and no one is better qualified to do this than Assistant Director Micayla Hall.”
During Belinda’s tenure as Director, the Library has experienced dynamic growth and change. Beginning with a forward-looking Strategic Plan and a series of Community Conversations setting out some ambitious goals and ending with a pandemic, Belinda’s consistent advocacy, strong leadership and deep community relationships have been critical to SFL’s success. Denise Easton and Allegra Griffiths, Co-Presidents of the Board, expressed their enormous gratitude for Belinda’s leadership. “Belinda has been the guiding light leading the way for the Library to complete important strategic priorities, including the building projects and the associated capital campaign. Her steadfast commitment to serving the Stonington community and supporting her Library team inspired us all. We could not have accomplished this without her, and we are so thankful for her contribution.”
In addition to the physical improvements at the Library, Belinda has also overseen an expansion of its programs and service offerings. Under Belinda’s leadership, the staff and a dedicated team of volunteers have extended the reach of the Library, both physically and digitally, with Library branches at the PNC and Stonington Human Services, customized programs at Masonicare and StoneRidge and increased offerings of online services available 24/7. SFL has also helped to bridge the digital divide by providing access to broadband internet service, computers, software and technology help for anyone in the Stonington community.
Belinda’s commitment to collaboration and support for all community organizations is evident in her work to re-establish the Stonington Non-Profit Roundtable, bringing together many local non-profit groups to share resources, programs and special events. A lasting love of literature and our community’s special literary heritage will endure in Belinda’s vision to bring together the Stonington Village Improvement Association (SVIA) and the Merrill House to create the Sandy McClatchy Memorial Library and Poetry Corner in the Library gallery. This collection is a treasure that inspires visitors and scholars from around the world to experience the inspiration of poetry and literature.
Judge Nick Kepple, former President of the SFL Board of Trustees shared his thoughts on Belinda’s retirement. “Belinda‘s contribution to the Stonington Free Library and the community is all but impossible to calculate. Her kindness, compassion for service and wisdom became the personality of the library, which I affectionately call our ‘jewel on the green’. Belinda has been the shining diamond who has shown us the way forward so successfully over the years she has served the library as Director.”
Belinda shares her parting thoughts, “It has been a truly wonderful experience being at the Library over the past five plus years. It has been a privilege to work with a team of extraordinary people, both staff and volunteers, whose tireless dedication and many skills have brought about the construction project and the refurbishment and repurposing of the interior which will enable the Library to fully serve the needs of the community now and into the future. The breadth, range and complexity of all this is extraordinary but what stands out to me as the most important aspect of this whole enterprise is that it has been, from day one, a community based project. I feel that over these years the Library has built a strong and enduring network of mutual support in this wonderful place. It has been a delight and an honor to have been a part of this very special institution.”
After stepping down as Director on January 11, Belinda plans to remain engaged with the Library as Director Emeritus in a part-time capacity. She will continue curating the adult library collection, writing for the Library and assisting with our programming and outreach.