Letter: Farewell and Thank You


After 10 ½ remarkable years at the New Canaan Library, I am stepping down this month. Thank you Michael Dinan and the New Canaanite for the opportunity to convey my gratitude for the widespread and enduring support for the Library which emanates from across our community.

Lisa Oldham

Libraries are intertwined in a wonderfully symbiotic relationship with their communities. A great library supports the intellectual, cultural, and social needs of its community in direct proportion to the support it receives. In our case, that special relationship is an exemplar of the absolute best a community library can be. Through the exceptional support of citizen philanthropists and Town government, our library boasts a building recognized as the best, already garnering national level acclaim.

The leadership of ~1000 families who together gave $30 million to ensure everyone in town has an exceptional, accessible library stands as a testament to New Canaan’s generosity, foresight, and commitment to the library’s mission to be an essential place for lifelong learning, culture, and connection for everyone in our community.

Our Library is of course more than its beautiful building. A community library is people, ideas, learning and culture. It serves as a welcoming platform for lifelong learning, offering diverse resources, classes, workshops, exhibitions, and lectures each week. Lifelong learning happens every day as people connect and share at both Library programs and the thousands of community meetings hosted within the Library.

Over the past decade, we have built not only a stunning new building but also an industry leading library service centered on learning for everyone in the New Canaan community. These transformations have positioned us at the forefront of the library industry and there is much more growth to come. Since February 2023, the number of New Canaanites using the Library has wildly exceeded our projections with more than double the number of daily/weekly/monthly visitors compared to the busiest pre-covid time. Demand for more programs; more books, (digital, audio and print), more classes and workshops, and more meeting room space all outstrip even our optimistic earlier projections. It is clear that New Canaanites value learning, culture and connection at every age and stage and feel welcome and at home in the new Library.

I have had the privilege and honor of leading the Library and its transformation and it has been an exhilarating challenge made possible by the support of so many individuals. While it is impossible to list everyone, I want to acknowledge a few whose support of me and contributions in various ways have had an outsize impact: my husband Matthew who agreed to move across the planet 11 years ago and has supported and encouraged me every day since; of the scores of talented, dedicated Library employees who’ve worked to make our Library the best it can be, Cheryl Capitani and Ellen Crovatto, the Library’s two vice-presidents joined me 10 years ago and have devoted themselves to the Library and community and with me, led the service transformation and the fundraising efforts that have resulted in this world class Library.

The Library is a non-profit organization led by trustees who play essential roles in governance and financial support to ensure the whole community benefits. Of the many dedicated trustees, I wish to specially recognize the four board chairs with whom I’ve worked: Christine Yordan who welcomed me to town and put me up so I could get straight to work; Chris LeBris who led the board in my early years and undertook the foundational work that paved the way for the fundraising and construction that was to come; Alicia Wyckoff who took the mantle of leadership with humility and an unwavering commitment of service to her community and whose support and friendship have been utterly sustaining; and finally Bob Butman whose hard work, leadership, good humour and indefatigable commitment has seen him stay on as Chairman for the past 6 ½ years with a resilience, determination and equanimity that have ensured we have built a phenomenal Library building and service for everyone in New Canaan.

The town of New Canaan has been a great partner to the Library. There are many New Canaanites who serve on town’s governing bodies and other commissions and whose support for the Library and me have been integral to this successful partnership, in particular I recognize Stephen Karl and Rob Mallozzi who have been especially instrumental in strengthening that partnership.

As the building and green near completion, I am stepping down, confident our capable team will continue the Library’s growth. I look forward to watching the Library continue to flourish and grow from a distance. The board is actively recruiting a new President/CEO and has engaged Maureen Sullivan to serve as interim President during this transition period.

Thank you to the thousands of people who have supported the Library and befriended me– it has been a delight to serve this community through my work at the Library and I wish you farewell. I shall be in the Library on Sunday 10th December if you’d like to stop in and say goodbye in person.

Warmest regards,


12 thoughts on “Letter: Farewell and Thank You

  1. Thank you, Lisa! I will miss you! I will miss our long chats, your excellent book recommendations & your brilliant leadership of The New Canaan Library building project. You have a way of connecting people that is quite unique; always validating, positive, supportive and sincere in your listening and willingness to witness. You are an inspiration to me. WWLOD 🙂 You were the best thing to happen to New Canaan in a long time, and we hope this isn’t goodbye, but see you again sometime. May peace, love and happiness be with you, always.

  2. A transformational leader whose inspirational presence will be sorely missed. Thank you Lisa for being the right leader at the right time. You will always be a treasured New Canaanite!

  3. Thank you for everything you have done for the New Canaan community. You are a true star and your presence will be missed but never forgotten.

  4. Congratulations Lisa, and thank you for the profound and indelible mark you have made on this community. What a wonderful accomplishment in your life, and in ours!

  5. What a gift you have given the town and to me as a friend and fellow New Canaan Chamber of Commerce Board Member. I can’t thank you enough for your stewardship and leadership of such an amazing Library reconstruction! Happy Travels!

  6. Thank you Lisa for your leadership and friendship! You are a true treasure and will be greatly missed! All the best to you and your family. XO

  7. Lisa,
    Thank you for all you’ve done for New Canaan. The New Canaan Library project succeeded because of your commitment and determination – and what a library it is!!! It has been a pleasure to have you as part of our community and we wish you and Matthew all the best!

  8. Well done, Lisa. You have kept us from creeping into our caves of contentment and mental stagnation. The new library is a crowning achievement of your distinguished career. Thank you for giving our community such a wonderful and timeless legacy.

  9. Thank you Lisa. Best to you and your family in your future endeavors. What a wonderful and lasting legacy you have built! You have certainly left the Library in a much better place. Thank you for your vision and leadership!

  10. Thank you Lisa for your vision, determination, smarts, and unfailing good humor. Thank you for loving our town as much as we do and for dedicating yourself to others for ten years. Thank you for making New Canaan a world class town with a world class library. Thank you for being a friend to us all.

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