b"Building It Because Theyve ComeSarah Lester guides the Maplewood Library into a new ageBY TIA SWANSONAn artist's rendering of the adult reading room that will exist when the Maplewood Library's expansion comes to fruition. The floor-to-ceiling windows will look out on Maplewood Park.T aboutPublicLibrary,looknofurtherdoors between 2:45 and 5 p.m. on weekdays in orderas the programming, with an ambitious $20 million o get a sense of the energy of the Maple-woodto escape the hordes of middle schoolers who invadedrenovation at the main library that will bring the than the librarys website. Like the mostwhen school let out. The controversy faded quickly, asbuilding into the 21st Century and provide nearly popular, brilliant party guest, the websitethe library worked with the middle school to create10,000 more square feet. While the library is hoping isbrimmingwithinformation,ideas,better after school programming for students. for an $8 million grant from the state that will allow connections, life. Heres news about anIthasbecomeadistantmemoryunderSarah upcoming conversation on just and re- Lester, who was named director in 2012, and who silient communities; heres the Instagram feed. Heresbelieves the mission of the library is to provide in-informationvirtual story time, and about anformationand a spaceto all who seek it. I re-ongoing art exhibition. Heres an anti-racist readingally felt like if we are a community organization [we list; heres a link for teens, and one for foodies. must be] open to all, Lester explains. She has been The website encapsulates the librarys logo andas good as her word, expanding access to materialsslogan: Maplewood Library, Open For All. And boyone of her first acts was to make the library part of is it. Before COVID hit, the towns library systema regional partnership that makes six million items averaged 1,000 visitors a day. Four out of five resi- available to Maplewood card holdersand oversee-dents have a library card and, on the last day beforeing an explosion in the number of library events.the statewide shutdown in March, patrons checkedSarah is a special leader.she really is, says Ellen out 4,000 materialsa testament both to the Ma- Davenport, the former mayor and current treasurer plewood community and to the librarys importanceof the librarys private foundation. Life with Sarah within it.is exciting.It was not so very long ago that the tagline mightNowLesterandherboardofdirectors,along have seemed a stretch: in 2007, a short-lived uproarwith the foundation, are aiming to make the literalSarah Lester, who was named library director in 2012, is credited with bringing indefatigable energy and an erupted when the librarys board voted to close thespace the library occupies as exciting and dynamicexplosion of programs to the library.38/ matters magazine / fall 2020"