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New trustees look to future of Athenaeum

Date: 1/19/2010

Jan. 20, 2010.

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- Three new trustees have joined the board at the Westfield Athenaeum at a time when public and private institutions alike are in need of new funding sources and ways to get them.

According to Robert Brown, chair of the board of directors, the top priority is funding for the 13-member board and its new directors, Justice John Greaney (retired), Agma Sweeney and Dr. Frederick Harling, Ph.D. Greaney and Sweeney were chosen by the board and Harling was named as a trustee by majority vote in the November election.

"We are in kind of a unique position because we are not a public library and it puts us in a very delicate position because about 60 percent of our funding comes from the city of Westfield," Brown explained. "But there is no agreement of what that funding will be, which means we need a board that can appeal to the community [and bridge the gap in funding]."

He said each new trustee brings valuable experience and contacts which will aid the board in their efforts.

"We're thrilled to have three wonderful supporters of the Athenaeum [join the board]," Christopher Lindquist, director of the Athenaeum, said. "John Greaney brings a wealth of experience. He's not only a patron of the Athenaeum but also supports our mission and wants us to be the best we can possibly be.

"Agma has been helpful with exhibits and . [our efforts] reaching out to the local Spanish-American community ... she's an integral part of that," Lindquist continued. "She really has a sense of community and knows the wonderful role an athenaeum can play in a community.

"Rick is a doctor of history and he's really got an enthusiasm for history," Lindquist said. "He's going to play a key role to help us move forward with our historical assets and wants to make sure we maintain our programs and services."

Greaney noted he's been a patron of the Athenaeum for 60 years, using its periodicals throughout his formal education.

He called his appointment to the board "an honor." Greaney will serve for three years and has been appointed to the board's personnel committee.

Harling said his priorities as a board member include the expansion of the Boy's and Girl's Library, fundraising and increasing community outreach.

He explained he decided to run for trustee in the November election because he's been involved with the Athenaeum all his life and wanted to do more. Harling has been elected to a six-year term and was appointed to the board's nominating committee.

Sweeney will serve a three-year term and chair the board's Jasper Rand Art Museum Committee.

She said as the committee chair she hopes to bring more community artists to the museum. Sweeney added she's also committed to bringing more diversity to the library's collection.

Greaney, Harling and Sweeney join current board members Shirley Palczynski, Mark Morin, Eddy Latimer, Kristin Sullivan, Ann Gervais, Richard Patterson, Alberta Humason and State Rep. Donald Humason Jr.