Bud Werner Memorial celebrated at rededication ceremony | SteamboatToday.com

Bud Werner Memorial celebrated at rededication ceremony

Bud Werner Memorial Library director Chris Painter, right, receives a standing ovation Friday evening from a roomful of people attending a community celebration for the completed expansion and renovation of the library.
Matt Stensland

'What a Gift!'

Excerpt from a poem written by Susan de Wardt for Friday's Bud Werner Memorial Library rededication ceremony.

What a gift, then, to have a library:

a treasure house of information where

in the old books you read what is wise

in the new books you discover what is possible.

Where every day the whole world is alive in words.

Take your library card.

Gather as many books as your arms can hold!

Celebrate the gift this library is -

a gift to be freely enjoyed by everyone.

More than 100 people attended the celebration of poetry, music, vision, history, heritage, knowledge, community and architecture that was Friday’s rededication of Bud Werner Memorial Library.

“I think it’s fabulous. It’s a fantastic asset for the community,” resident John Fairlie said. “That so many people are here today shows the enthusiasm. Something this community was missing was a world-class library.”

The dedication ceremony concluded a journey that began 12 years ago with a space needs assessment and was fueled in 2005 by voters’ approval of additional property taxes. The $12.5 million expansion and remodel was paid for by $11.4 million in voter-approved funds and $1.1 million in grants and private donations.

“That concept is now reality,” said Bob Matteo, president of the library’s board of trustees, “and this facility is your gift to yourself.”

The dedication ceremony included a tribute to Wallace “Buddy” Werner, the Steamboat ski racer who died in an avalanche near St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 1964.

“Bud Werner was the first American skier to be taken seriously by the Europeans,” master of ceremonies Jayne Hill said. “They took him so seriously because he could beat them.”

Buddy Werner’s brother, Loris, recalled the outpouring of community support that led to the library’s first dedication in 1967. Donations came in the form of pennies from school children and tips given up by waitresses, Loris Werner said. He said that willingness to give was not because of Buddy Werner’s fame as skier but his decency as a person.

“It was all because of who Buddy was and what he stood for,” Loris Werner said. “He was an inspiration to many.”

Friday was the first time the newly renovated 1967 structure was open to the public.

I love how they utilized the old part of the library,” resident Glenda Hachenberger said. “It’s so efficient and a great use of space.”

The ceremony was held in the renovation’s large community room. Fairlie, executive director of the Steamboat Springs Orchestra, said that as a musician, he is excited to see a new venue for events.

The renovation’s accompanying expansion, which includes the library’s collection, opened last year. The project was commemorated in a film created by Kelly Anzalone, of KPA Productions, that was shown during the ceremony.

“I always have a sense of discovery while I’m here,” resident Scott Ford said in the video. Since the expansion, Ford said he has spent more time in the library than in the previous 19 years combined.

Ford, apparently, is not alone. Total checkouts increased 44 percent in the first five months the expansion was open, compared with the same five months the year before in the original facility.

The ceremony also included a presentation by historical impersonator Christopher Lowell as Benjamin Franklin, founder of the American public library system.

“Have you ever paid a fine for an overdue book?” Lowell asked the crowd. “Well, you have me to blame. I invented that one.”

Lowell, as Franklin, provided a brief history lesson of the events that led to the founding of America’s first public library in Philadelphia.

“I am proud that such work we did so long ago still lasts,” he said.

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