Elting Memorial Library bids farewell to Richard Heyl de Ortiz

Last week, the Elting Memorial Library Association held it's annual meeting. At this meeting, nominations were considered for three library board member positions and voting took place on revisions to the library’s bylaws and approval of the library’s annual budget. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Last week, the Elting Memorial Library Association held it’s annual meeting. At this meeting, nominations were considered for three library board member positions and voting took place on revisions to the library’s bylaws and approval of the library’s annual budget. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Although the Board of Directors of the Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz meets monthly, each January the Elting Memorial Library Association has its annual meeting, which includes reports from both the executive director and the board president, not to mention the official presentation by the treasurer of the library’s budget for the year just begun. But the annual meeting held last Thursday, January 21, was a particularly poignant one, as president Richard Heyl de Ortiz stepped down from his post after more than a decade on the board.

“It has been extraordinarily challenging at times, but it has been a real pleasure to serve on this board,” Heyl de Ortiz told his colleagues. “There has been a sea-change from where we were in 2006,” when the expansion of the library building was completed. He praised director John Giralico for his “steady leadership” and the rest of the staff as “reliable and consistent…. It’s really been a group process and a team effort.”

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“I will miss it, but it will be nice to have a little bit less commitment,” said Heyl de Ortiz, opening a bakery box from Moxie Cup as he presided for the last time. “I fully intend to remain involved with the library; I just don’t have to attend a meeting every month. This is the last meeting to which I’ll be bringing treats!”

Other trustees praised the outgoing president’s many years of service, as well as the mentoring that he offered his colleagues. “We’re losing a treasured piece of this Library Board with Richard walking out,” said board treasurer Timothy Copeland as he presented the 2016 budget. “It was a great year with great leaders,” added trustee Christopher Watkins. “We’re very lucky that John is staying on, and that Richard will still be involved.” “He’d better be!” added board secretary Alison Nash. “I know where he lives.” Heyl de Ortiz will remain an active member of the Development Committee, which does not require participants to be members of the board.

After the Association’s annual meeting had adjourned but before the monthly Board of Directors meeting had been opened, the trustees toasted Heyl de Ortiz with sparkling cider and Pellegrino water. “In appreciation of your longtime service, your awesome leadership, your dedication, your humor and your gourmet snacks above and beyond,” said Nash as she presented her retiring colleague with a card made from a recycled book and a painting of the library by Rachele Ottens. “To our fearless leader through good times and bad,” said Watkins as he raised his glass. “We very much appreciate all you’ve done.”

Filling the empty seat on the board will be Jason Warren, voted in for his first three-year term at the annual meeting. Warren, who has worked for 31 years in the software business, said that he was “interested in the technology aspects of libraries” and “very happy with the facilities available online” via the Elting Library website. Incumbent trustees Copeland, Nash and Pat Backus were all reelected to the board for additional three-year terms. At the board meeting that followed the break, new officers were elected: Incumbent vice president Linda Welles will succeed Heyl de Ortiz as president; Irene Edmond-Rosenberg will take over as vice president and Robert Miller as second vice president; Nash will continue as secretary; and Tessa Killian will take over for Copeland as treasurer. Since it has not been customary for the president to use a gavel at board meetings, Heyl de Ortiz presented Welles with a gigantic pencil to symbolize the passing of the torch.

Several proposed revisions to the by-laws were also passed at the Library Association annual meeting. The maximum size of the board was expanded to 15 members, with the number needed to constitute a quorum changed from “seven” to simply “a majority.” Provisions were added enabling the election of a co-president, co-vice president, assistant secretary or assistant treasurer. Existence of a “Friends of Elting Library” organization was made non-mandatory. And language was changed to reflect the fact that library membership is automatic for New Paltz residents, not donation-based.

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