Dear Friends of the Atheneum:
This is my third annual letter to you as Chair of the Atheneum Board of Trustees.
It is an opportunity for me to report on the state of the Atheneum,
to share our plans for the coming year and to thank each and every one of you for your generosity and support of this very special institution. 2020 was a most unusual year which makes this report to you all the more important.
I am happy to report that the Atheneum weathered the challenges of 2020 remarkably well and, in many ways, enters 2021 stronger and better equipped to serve our community than ever before. Our leadership team is strong, our finances are strong thanks to your generosity, and we have built critical organizational muscles around our adaptability, creativity, and responsiveness. The Atheneum has a long and distinguished history of resilience and adaptation since its founding in 1834. I believe the performance of our public library in the past nine months is another proud chapter in that history.
The Atheneum closed its physical doors in mid-March in response to the pandemic. It was imperative that we find ways to remain open virtually, 24/7. To make that happen, our approach to everything we do had to change.
Our website and online meeting technology became critical delivery
mechanisms as all of our programming became virtual. Internet access was provided in the garden. Thanks to a grant from the Nantucket Fund for Emergency Relief, we purchased 20 laptop computers and 20 personal hotspots which can be checked out like a book, allowing patrons without reliable internet access to connect to the internet for school, work or personal use.
Our librarians continued to provide the same advice and expertise on every topic imaginable, just not in person. Our circulation team processed, cleaned and hand-wrapped thousands of items for pickup service. Our homebound delivery program made it possible for our elder and more vulnerable patrons to safely access books and audio from home. For the first six months, the staff personally called every borrowing patron to confirm check-out availability.
Since June, almost 3800 Grab and Go bags have been created; parents and caregivers wait for them to come out each day. These bags are immensely popular and are both educational and entertaining. The word has spread beyond Nantucket; seasonal residents and new patrons from off island have requested information on how they can create the bags.
The Atheneum Dance Festival has become a significant cultural event for the island but could not be held in its traditional form. Thanks to the creativity and determination of our Artistic Director, Tyler Angle, and the generosity of our Dance Festival Committee and the performers, the Festival was reimagined and delivered virtually over several weeks. More than 3,000 people from four different countries viewed the Festival on our new website, making this extraordinary series of performances both an artistic tour de force and a financial success.
Speaking of financial success, thanks to you our generous and loyal donors, the Atheneum finishes 2020 in excellent financial condition. Our Annual Giving results of over $600,000 not only exceeded our goal but was our best Annual Giving ever. This level of giving at any time would be gratifying but during the pandemic it is
inspiring. We cannot thank you enough for your loyal and generous support. Without each of you, none of this
would have been possible.
Like all of you, we are anxious for some return to normalcy including reopening the building for a limited number of patrons. In preparation for that, we have revamped all of our operating processes, created new work flows, and improved air circulation. We have done everything we need to be ready to move forward when public health considerations support such a move.
The Atheneum has been forever changed by the pandemic in some very positive ways. By necessity, we had to become stronger, more adaptable and more innovative in how we serve our community. Responding to the pandemic required us to change, to adopt different ways of looking at things, and to be creative and open to new possibilities.
We have learned so much about the importance and reach of virtual programs. Our virtual programs are now attended by three to four times the number of people than when they were delivered face to face. We now provide programming that is accessible across the country and the globe. We will not let this go when things return to normal.
We also learned that when we closed our physical doors, we needed to find new ways to reach all parts and members of the Nantucket community. If they could not come to us, we must find ways to go to them. We have a deepened appreciation of how much we all depend on each other. Expanding partnerships with other island organizations, strengthening our relationships in the community, and reenergizing our community outreach and needs assessment will be important priorities moving forward.
NEW AND DEPARTING TRUSTEES
This year we said goodbye to four outstanding trustees whose terms expired. Thank you Sam Bailey, Annye Camara, Cathy Weinroth, and Marcia Welch for the energy, thoughtful guidance, commitment and support you brought to the Atheneum. We are deeply grateful for their service.
We are delighted to welcome our new class of trustees – Bianca Bosker, William Cohan, Duncan Macallister and Bonnie Sacerdote. We know that each of these outstanding individuals will make a difference moving forward.
In closing, let me first acknowledge and thank our extraordinary and talented board of trustees for their dedication, wise counsel, commitment to the Atheneum and generosity of time and resources. 2020 was a pivotal year for the Atheneum and the leadership and strength of our board of trustees made all the difference.
Second, my deepest thanks to our dedicated, hardworking, talented staff for all they have accomplished in this difficult year. And a special acknowledgement to our Executive Director, Ann Scott, who has been amazing during this crisis. Her efforts to keep the Atheneum running during the pandemic were simply outstanding. She was exactly the leader we needed during the pandemic; she is exactly the leader we need moving forward.
And finally, I want to thank each of you, our generous supporters and donors. You make possible everything we do and we are deeply grateful for your support. We cannot thank you enough.
There has been so much grief, pain and suffering this past year. Going forward, we are determined to continue to do our part to enrich and brighten the life of every person we touch.
Best wishes and many thanks,
The Atheneum is excited to announce that, thanks to a grant from the Nantucket Fund for Emergency Relief through the Nantucket Community Foundation, we have recently purchased 20 HP Chromebooks and twenty Coolpad Surf Mobile Hotspots. These devices are now available for lending to all library card holders as Connect Kits.
Each Connect Kit will contain one Chromebook and one Mobile Hotspot, allowing patrons to connect to the internet for school, work, or personal use. Kits may be checked out for 14 days with the option to renew if no other patrons are waiting.
To Reserve a Kit:
- Email email@example.com [subject: Connection Kit]
- Call 508-228-1110 (x101) Monday-Friday, 9AM-2PM
Instructions for pickup will be provided at the time of request.
We are immensely grateful to the Community Foundation for helping us find more equitable access to technology on Nantucket! It is our hope that these kits will help our neighbors who are without reliable digital access stay connected to friends, family, and to the world.
Dear Friends of the Nantucket Atheneum:
This is my second annual letter to you as Chair of the Atheneum’s Board
of Trustees. These letters are an important opportunity to provide an
update on the past year, our thoughts for the coming year and, most
important, to thank you for your generosity and support.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TRANSITION
2019 has certainly been an important and eventful year for the
Nantucket Atheneum. Molly Anderson, our extraordinary Executive
Director for over 14 years, retired.
Molly brought wisdom, vision, amazing creativity and boundless
energy to the role. We cannot thank her enough for her
contributions to the Atheneum and our community.
We were thrilled to welcome Ann Scott as only the ninth Executive
Director of the Atheneum. Ann was the unanimous choice of the
Board of Trustees following a comprehensive, nationwide search.
As you would expect, Ann has an excellent background in library
management with over seventeen years of experience in a broad
array of library leadership roles. She is thoughtful, engaging, and an
excellent listener and communicator. Throughout her career,she has
demonstrated strong leadership, imagination, and the ability to build
highly effective connections with individuals and other organizations.
She appreciates Nantucket’s rich history, the importance of libraries
to their communities, and the indispensable role that the Atheneum
plays on our island.
Our Board is confident that Ann Scott is the right leader for the next
phase of the Atheneum’s history. We also understand that a
leadership transition provides an opportunity to recognize who we
are today, to build on our strengths and to position the Atheneum to
respond effectively to changes in the needs of our community and
our environment moving forward. We are excited about the
While we devoted considerable effort to the search for a new executive director, I am happy to report that the Atheneum had an excellent year by all measures. Our talented staff welcomed and assisted over 167,000 visitors to the Atheneum and delivered over 1300 adult, teen, and children’s programs
which were enjoyed by over 30,000 program participants. Our website was visited almost 700,000 times and our staff visited island schools and met with over 1000 children to promote summer reading.
Our immensely popular Geschke lectures covered topics this summer ranging from U.S. foreign policy to the impact of technology in our lives. Our meeting rooms were used over 1000 times by other island organizations in support of civic and community engagement. Our fundraising was at record levels and our endowment continued to grow. We are a strong, healthy institution however you choose to measure it.
The Atheneum Dance Festival, which has become a signature cultural event, brought world class performers to the island who delivered two sublime evenings of artistic achievement and a magical week of dance lectures, lessons, demonstrations, and children’s programs. Each year we think the Dance Festival cannot get better and then it does.
We observed the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birthday with a number of events culminating in a marathon reading of Moby Dick. And with hundreds of enthusiastic plungers continuing to jump in the harbor Thanksgiving morning, we recalled the words of a former Board chair when he asked, “Who does not love the Turkey Plunge?”
Day in, day out the Atheneum connects people, provides resources to learn, to explore, to grow and to enjoy. It is a warm, vibrant, place where everyone is welcome. It is a cultural center, a community center, a learning center, a center for exploration and innovation and so much more. You make that
possible with your generosity and support. We can’t thank you enough for the difference you make.
SO WHAT IS NEXT?
Every year we must get better in order to stay financially strong, relevant, and indispensable to the quality of life on Nantucket. Over the next few years, we intend to challenge ourselves in three areas.
First, to continue to meet community needs with free access to top quality library, resources, services and programs. We have done an excellent job over time in providing relevant programs and services to our community. But we must always challenge ourselves to better understand those needs, to identify underserved populations, to use new data sources and tools to measure and validate those needs and to insure that what we provide is making a difference. This will be a forever goal.
Second, to ensure the Nantucket Atheneum remains financially stable, resilient, and sustainable. Careful expense management, a well-managed endowment, excellent development efforts, and your generosity ensure that today’s Atheneum is financially solid. But we must do better if we are to insure the future of this precious organization. Every year we must raise over $1 million for operating expenses. We must accomplish more in every category of financial management and fundraising to insure the future of the Atheneum. Another forever goal.
Third, to increase awareness and strengthen perception of the Nantucket Atheneum among key audiences and stakeholders. The hallmark of a public library is universal access at no cost. Financial support is essential for free access and we must continue to expand our efforts to communicate the
unique public/private nature of our role. I suspect this will also be a forever goal.
NEW AND DEPARTING TRUSTEES
This year we said goodbye to six outstanding trustees whose terms expired. Thank you David Ross, Bonnie Sacerdote, Norb Donelly, Douglass Ellis, Liz McHenry and Porter Dawson for the energy, thoughtful guidance, commitment and support you brought to the Atheneum. We are deeply grateful for their service.
We are delighted to welcome our new class of trustees – Deborah Manus, Linda McGrath, Alan McKelvie, Tom Roeder, and Nat Philbrick. We know that each of these outstanding individuals will make a difference moving forward.
In closing, let me first acknowledge and thank our extraordinary and talented board of trustees for their dedication, wise counsel, commitment to the Atheneum and generosity of time and resources. 2019 was a critical year for the Atheneum and the leadership and strength of our board of trustees made all the difference.
Second, my deepest thanks to our dedicated, hardworking, talented staff for all they have accomplished in this year of transition.
And finally, I want to thank each of you, our generous supporters and donors. You make possible everything we do and we are deeply grateful for your support. We are excited about the future of the Atheneum and look forward to seeing you soon at our fabulous public library.
The Atheneum now offers Saturday hours for curbside pick-up of library materials. Beginning Saturday, Oct. 10, the front entrance will be open from 9 am – 2 pm. Please note, library staff will not be processing books and films or available by telephone on Saturdays.
The Atheneum building remains closed to the public, but library patrons are encouraged to order their books, music and films online anytime or over the telephone Monday through Friday from 9 am – 2 pm. The library’s wifi signal is available in the garden and a printer is available in the front entrance during open hours.