After more than three decades of service to the Lyme Public Library, Judith Lightfoot has announced her intention to resign as board president this spring. Jack Sulger, a library trustee, will take over from Lightfoot.
Lightfoot’s resignation comes a year and a half after the opening of the library’s new, 6,800-square-foot, state-of-the-art building near Lyme Town Hall, an undertaking she first championed and then helped shepherd through construction and completion.
“Under Judy’s leadership, the library has evolved into a dynamic and modern institution that still retains its small-town charm, and the new library building for which she advocated so passionately for so many years is now a reality,” said Theresa Conley, Lyme Public Library Director. “It has been a privilege to work with and learn from her.”
Lightfoot was first appointed to the Lyme Public Library Board in April 1985 and was elected board president in 1989. During her 31 years of service, the library has won the Award of Excellence for Small Libraries, Excellence in Public Library Service Award, and the Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge Award.
In addition to moving into its new, larger, and more modern headquarters, the library has grown in ways that Lightfoot finds particularly important, becoming a busy, popular destination and gathering space for patrons of all ages. It has also become a community center where the unique qualities of Lyme and its residents can be adequately celebrated and honored.
The new building has several meeting rooms, including a large program room where large-scale events are regularly held, from author talks, poetry readings, and book groups for adults to reading, art, and science programs for children. The library also has a designated archive room, where the Lyme Local History Archives and the town archivist are now headquartered.
Lightfoot, a quintessential people person, was instrumental in inspiring others to support the library, its programs, and its mission. She and her husband, Richard, helped create a series of community-building and fund-raising initiatives for the library, including a popular concert and Mystery Dinner event, a centennial lecture series, panel discussions with local authors, and a tour of Lyme artists’ studios.
In part through her efforts to promote and honor local talents, the library became the beneficiary of several important donations and collections. The late author Dominick Dunne, a Lyme resident and patron of the library, donated all the videos he had reviewed for the Oscars to the library, and the Jewett family donated 500 gardening books from the collection of the late Tucky Jewett.
The library has also received several important works of art, adding to its impressive collection of paintings by Lyme artists. Recent donations include a Lyme landscape by the late painter Barbara Eckhardt Goodwin and a collection of four collages by Judy Friday, two of the artists featured in the first Lyme Artist Studio Tour. This winter, Elizabeth Enders, featured in the second Lyme Artist Studio Tour, donated a contemporary landscape.
Lightfoot, who moved to Lyme with her husband and four children in 1976, has also served the local and broader community through her work with High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, where she served for many years as president and trustee. In addition, she served as president and trustee of North American Riding for the Handicapped of Denver, President and trustee of Horses and Humans Foundation of Cleveland, President and member of the Westchester, N.Y., Council of Junior Leagues, Secretary and trustee of the Hopkins School, New Haven, and Secretary and director of the Lyme Public Library Foundation.
For her many volunteer efforts, Lightfoot has received several awards, including the James Brady Award from North American Riding for the Handicapped and the Hartford Courant Volunteer of the Year Award. In 1990, she was invited to attend the White House signing of the American with Disabilities Act 1990.
Lightfoot, who has four children and 13 grandchildren, said she feels this is the right time to step down from her position on the library Board. “It has been a pleasure to serve the library for three decades,” she said. “I have so enjoyed watching it grow and thrive, and I am thrilled to be leaving it in the capable hands of my colleagues, Library Director Theresa Conley and incoming Board President Jack Sulger.”