New Board president Kevin Bowdler was born and educated in Australia. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in Accounting and Computer Science in 1979. Kevin worked for several Australian companies in their Finance departments before traveling overseas for two years. In between travels he lived and worked in London. Upon returning to Australia, he obtained a job with JP Morgan in Sydney. In 1992, he was transferred to New York with JP Morgan. Kevin was promoted and transferred through several different jobs in several different countries. He and his family have spent time living in Singapore, London, New York and eventually India before leaving JP Morgan and relocating back to Stonington, CT where they live with their two sons. Kevin has been involved in several business ventures such as a window replacement company, a shared co-working space and a burger restaurant. Kevin is Vice Chair of the Stonington Economic Development Commission and organizes the Stonington Farmers Market on behalf of a local non-profit.
I’ve loved libraries since I was little with several close librarian family friends. So the thought of helping and working in one of my favorite places sounded like a great idea! I’ve greatly enjoyed it so far and it’s given me the opportunity to explore it as a second career. An avid reader, I enjoy reading biographies, historical novels and whimsical books that transport you. Being able to explore other lives and places in books led to my love of travel. When I’m not reading or traveling, I’m designing and handcrafting jewelry as a goldsmith for my business, Liv & Lov, specializing in custom engagement and heirloom pieces. I began that journey as a child apprenticing 20 years ago, later continuing my education at Providence College where I majored in Global Studies and minored in Political Science. I will be applying for a masters in librarianship later this year. It’s been wonderful working at SFL so far and look forward to serving this great community!
Libraries have been part of my life from childhood to adulthood. As a Mom raising my three boys, the library was part of their lives as well. It was a fun place both for them and for me too. It was a place where my boys were actually quiet for more than an hour! Now, being a part of the Stonington Free Library as a Library Assistant is a way for me to “pay it forward” both to the people coming into the library and the general community as well. I so much enjoy being a part of the SFL team. My co-workers are terrific and I look forward to seeing you when you come by!
I think an appreciation for libraries is just part of my genetic code! My beloved grandmother Bettie was the children’s librarian in Stonington for many years so from a very young age libraries felt like an extension of home. I have always been fascinated with the beauty of the physical spaces of libraries and the crucial role they serve in communities; Stonington is no exception. To date I have worked mostly in the nonprofit sector for Save The Bay, The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and ReSOURCE, VT to name a few. I attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison and received a degree in Political Science while rowing Division I crew as a freshman. My time in Madison was formative, acquiring skills for community organizing and advocacy that have served me well both personally and professionally. At present, I co-own and operate a small screen printing and design company with my partner Morgan King. With an eye for detail, my passion is to bring community members together in creative ways and reimagine uses for underutilized places and spaces. I am an ardent learner and thoughtful listener. I love running, gardening and laughing at the antics of my joyful son Milo.
I remember developing a strong love for libraries when my mom would ask that I check out Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books from my elementary school library. With each book we read together her broken English would improve along with my fluency. My mom’s love of reading is what I hoped I would pass on to my own children. We spent many hours in the Children’s Reading Room at the Stonington Free Library picking out stacks of books, making crafts, and participating in the summer reading program. After raising my family, I am eager to be a part of an institution that has given me so much already.
I have alway found libraries as a place of comfort and quite relaxed. After working various jobs throughout and after college, I never expected to be working at a library but who wouldn’t want to work in a place where they feel at home! When I was a teenager, I fell in love with reading which led me to pursue a philosophy degree in college. After graduating from Portland State University, I returned to Connecticut and found myself working for my local library as a janitor. Throughout my time growing close with the librarians, it began to dawn on me that pursuing a career working in libraries not only engaged with my love for books, but also allowed me to connect with the local community. I found myself joining the team at Stonington Free Library in early 2022 and am excited to learn and grow with this community!
Growing up in a small town we had an old one room schoolhouse library that I visited every two weeks as a child. I admired the two librarians that would help me pick out books that interested me. Since as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for reading. I graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a concentration in early childhood education. My first teaching position was at a preschool in Groton. My favorite part was reading to the children, both individually and as a group. I combined my love for books and working with children to start a new position in the library field. I worked for eleven years for a small public library in Eastern Connecticut and two years part time in a public school library. I am excited to work with the patrons and staff at the Stonington Free Library.
Karen is a library media paraprofessional at Stonington Public Schools. She has worked in early childhood education for over twenty years. She is a writer actively seeking publication, a member of two local critique groups, and belongs to an international writing organization. Karen started working at Stonington Free Library in 2019.
Marion grew up in Westchester County, New York. She received her BS degree in Behavioral Science from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Upon moving to Connecticut with her family, Marion worked at the Preston Public Library for 16 years. Being a part of the community, watching children grow into good readers, and bringing people together with information, these are the reasons why she loves working in public libraries. She is excited to have the opportunity to become part of the Stonington Free Library. She shares “It is a pleasure to work with an outstanding group of co-workers while serving a vibrant community”.
After teaching science for the past 25 years at nature centers, natural history museums, and most recently the Niantic Children’s Museum, Sarah is ready to start a new chapter of her career. Library services has been a great fit, as she loves working with people, organizing materials, and being in a role that involves learning and sharing knowledge. Sarah is thrilled to be working at SFL, which is such a valuable resource to the Stonington community. She is very appreciative of the welcoming and positive energy from the library’s patrons and staff.
I grew up visiting my hometown library at least twice a week every summer vacation. I knew as I got older that I wanted to turn my love of reading into a career and went on to become an elementary school teacher in Boston and studied to earn a Masters degree in reading. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the classroom and watching my students grow, however as I reflected upon my own goals I realized I truly wanted to get into the field of working in a public library. I started in the MLS program at the University of Rhode Island in the summer of 2021 and soon after was given the opportunity to become a library assistant at the Stonington Free Library. I have learned so much already and I look forward to learning so much more from all my amazing colleagues here!
A library is a place of light in so many senses and particularly Stonington Free Library with its many beautiful windows, windows that catch the east light in the morning and the west light in the afternoon – windows that for the past seven years have been kept ‘Really Clean’, inside and out, thanks to the skill, hard work and generosity of John Adams of Miracles@Work: Really Clean Windows’ – John who has volunteered his time and labor to the life of the Library and to the community.
As he explains in the farewell letter to his customers, he took 17 years to evolve a business philosophy and work ethic which he laid out in a book ‘Miracles@Work: Building Your Business From The Soul Up’.
From this grew his window cleaning business which allowed him to put his philosophy into to practice, besides being a business that gave him the all-important freedom to travel in the off season.
One of John’s business practices which deserves a special mention, was donating 5% of new business referred by customers to the Stonington, Mystic & Noank or Westerly Library, La Grua Center or COMO as designated by the customer that recommended them. John hopes that other local businesses might be encouraged to take up this practice of mutual community support.
It is hard to overstate the difference that our volunteers make to the life of the Library but John always brought a special extra ingredient and I can only call that ingredient JOY – joy in his work, joy in serving others and, yes, joy in ‘Really Clean Windows’ – in a job really well done! We will miss him and wish him well as he ventures out into a new phase in life’s journey where, without a doubt, he will discover ‘miracles at work’. Thank you John – if, as you say, through your business you became so much more a part of your community, please know that you will always be a part of the Library community and we are so grateful for that.
Our new stairwell gallery is a rotating display of local student artwork in memory of Stonington Free Library (SFL) friend and colleague Sue Buchman (1958-2019). Funded by an anonymous donor, the gallery is located in the stairwell that connects the main library level and the lower-level children’s room. The goal of the gallery is to honor the memory of Sue Buchman, who was a prolific artist, by encouraging students to engage in the creative process.
The first artists on display were selected from winning pieces of the 2021 Stonington Schools Superintendent Art Contest. One piece is part of a Girl Scouts Silver Award project depicting female characters who deepen our appreciation of women. In partnership with Stonington Public Schools, volunteers, and other local organizations, artwork will be changed on a quarterly basis to showcase many local artists.
Thank you to Belinda de Kay for designing the plaque to honor Sue, and to John Malmros for generously hanging the frames and plaque. Mary Anne Butler, Maris Frey, Carissa Gullikson, Sally Motycka, and Deidre Toole were all instrumental in making the gallery a reality. Schools wishing to exhibit artwork in the stairwell gallery should contact Micayla Hall the Library Director or Karla Umland the Assistant Director.
The plaque reads, This rotating display of artwork by local students is given in memory of our dear friend and colleague Sue Buchman, 1958-2019. Sue was beloved by her co-workers, by the patrons, by all who knew her. She left the world too soon and will always be remembered. A photo of Sue and one of her paintings have generously been donated and will be displayed in the gallery in the near future.
We hope that like Sue, this gallery will be an inspiration and encouragement to young people and young artists now and into the future, and will be a lasting tribute to someone who had a gift for life and was generous in sharing that gift with others.
Stonington Garden Club was honored for the month of June – read more here.
Have you noticed that library books often have clear shiny covers? Have you ever wondered how the covers got there? At Stonington Free Library, three specially-trained volunteers wrap all of our new hardcover books. They use things like Polyfit Center Cut Book Jacket Covers, which come on a big roll. Layering and folding just so, Patricia (Patty) Tucchio, Barbara Corbeil, and Margaret (Meg) Wilhelms make sure that our books are protected for a long life.
We are delighted that our book covering volunteers have recently returned to the library building. During the height of the pandemic, we had to limit the number of people in our building for safety. Therefore, the volunteers were not able to come in. Hardworking staff member Ivy Burns took on the covering tasks during the pandemic pivot. Now that the environment is safer, Barbara, Meg, and Patty are back at the books. Over the last decade, these dedicated volunteers have come in every week and spread out the tools of their trade on a library table. In one morning they cover about 50 new books. It is always exciting when the book coverers arrive, because we know that we will soon have a stack of shiny new titles to offer our patrons.
Kim – Library Technical Assistant
I have spent the past 30 years teaching elementary school in Norwich. My greatest joy came from instilling a love of learning and growing lifelong readers. With that goal in mind, I have always harnessed the power of my local library to keep my students’ reading habits fulfilled. As I strive to be an example of a curious mind, the library has been a focal point for not only myself but also the young learners I served. After 30 years of teaching I am excited to use my love of knowledge and books to start a new career. As an assistant at SFL I am eager to connect with patrons as I facilitate the acquisition of information while promoting a passion for reading.
A FOND REMEMBRANCE OF TOMMY AND MARGUERITE MOORE
Whenever Marguerite came in to the Library, which she often did, to browse the new books and find a good read, several good reads, which she always did, she brought with her a rush of enthusiasm and energy, an apparently unfailing joy in life which she managed to communicate, even in such a brief and everyday exchange as borrowing library books.
But the truth is that this larger than life couple who gave so much to so many loved and supported the Library over many years with an unfailing generosity that could always be counted on – a love and support that was infectious, drawing others in its wake, always affirmed by Tommy’s quiet approval and gentle gravitas.
In the early days of my tenure as Library Director we had to cut our hours to meet a budget shortfall. It was a watershed moment in the Library’s history and it was met by another great leader in our community, Beth Walker who rallied her friends to raise funds so that we could open our doors again. Among the many wonderful people who responded to Beth’s appeal were Marguerite and Tommy, not once but several times, cheerfully giving not just vitally needed funds, but encouragement and affirmation of the Library’s place in the community. I also recall that we had a silent auction of an item that was not catching fire and Marguerite quietly bid and then, typically, out bid herself! From those beginnings to being Honorary Co-Chairs of the Capital Campaign, their support has been a major factor in the successful completion of our building and refurbishment project and bringing the Library to the place it is today.
They were both larger than life people who made a difference. I will remember their kindness, their grace, glamour and generosity with affection and gratitude. The last time I saw Tommy he was walking down Water Street as he did every morning to Tom’s News and I thought then that he was standing as straight and tall as when he was a boy – a little slower perhaps but as sure footed as ever. I shall miss them both.
On behalf of the Trustees and Staff,
Belinda de Kay, Director Emeritus
FRIENDS REMEMBER KATE ROBINSON
Kate grew up on Wamphassuc Pont at her family’s summer house, next door to her mother’s parents, the Stickney’s.
For many years, after she and Barclay Robinson married, she and her three children, spent the summer months divided between Wamphassuc and Barclay’s family home in Castine, Maine. Athletics reigned supreme but it was a family of readers—led by Betty Stickney McCagg whose own library was large and wide ranging. But the Library, too, was important to them all and Barclay ultimately served as a member of the Board with Kate an active partner in helping the Library to complete the last campaign in 2005.
Kate was an avid reader with a deep-seated curiosity about society, culture, politics and nature. Her devotion to learning and to community were part of who she was. She was greatly missed when she left Stonington a number of years ago to be near her daughters living in the northwest, but her recent bequest shows how deeply she cared for the Library and its ability to serve other families in the years ahead.
Beth Harding and Betty Richards
Karla Boeddinghaus Umland – Assistant Director of SFL
The quickest way to understand Karla’s background and work ethic is to know that she was raised working in her family’s small flower shop in Metuchen, NJ. As a result, she learned the value of customer service, record keeping, advertising, facility maintenance, and professionalism.
Being the bookish one of the family, Karla studied English and German at Connecticut College in New London. In 2013 she had the opportunity to apply her skills to the library world when she started working part-time at Bill Memorial Library in Groton. A self-described “professional library patron” Karla was inspired to begin graduate studies in library science when she finally experienced library life as a staff member.
Since then, she has worked in children’s services at Wheeler Library in North Stonington, and been a coordinator for the Connecticut Library Consortium. A couple of years ago, she had the opportunity to start working one day per week at SFL. All this time, she had been pursuing her Master’s degree and in December, 2020 she successfully completed an MLIS through San Jose State University.
She is honored to expand her responsibilities at Stonington Free Library by bringing her blend of empathy and experience to the dynamic team of library staff and board members.
She believes that libraries are the heart of the community, and now more than ever SFL will enrich lives and build community by bringing information, ideas, and people together in the Stonington community.
Library Director Micayla Hall adds “Having worked with Karla for nearly two years, I am certain she will quickly, easily and confidently take on the responsibilities of the Assistant Director position. She is friendly, kind, professional, resourceful and a fast learner. I truly appreciate her flexibility and that she is always willing to take on new tasks and projects. Her forward thinking ideas always improve library programs, services, communications and work flows. She is a familiar face to our patrons and has gotten to know the community quite well. We are very lucky to have her in Stonington and I know her contributions will positively impact the Library’s future.”