WESTBOROUGH – Mary Johnston, the chair of the Westborough Public Library Board of Trustees, has been named Massachusetts Library Trustee of the Year.
The award was presented on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Massachusetts Library Trustees Association conference in Shrewsbury.
“I was extremely surprised and honored to be awarded Massachusetts Library Trustee of Year at the Mass. Library Trustees Association conference in Shrewsbury,” said Johnston. “The library is such a vital part of our community, and it has been a pleasure to give back to my town through my role as a trustee. Westborough is a fantastic community to live in, and I truly believe it’s important for residents to find a way to get involved so that Westborough continues to thrive for years to come.”
Johnston joined the trustees six years ago and was elected chair five years ago.
“There was an impressive nomination pool of trustees from libraries across the state, and Mary rose to the top,” said Westborough Public Library Director Maureen Amyot, who submitted the nomination for Johnston. “‘Outstanding performance’ doesn’t even begin to encapsulate her work on behalf of the library.”
Amyot’s nomination focused on Johnston’s work with the library building project.
“Around the time she joined the board, the library was on the waiting list for a construction grant from the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners. Johnston joined the Library Building Committee, and was elected secretary. In the time between the award announcement in the summer of 2022 and the Fall Town Meeting, Johnston and Amyot gave numerous public presentations,” said Amyot.
During the fall Town Meeting in October 2022, Johnston and Amyot presented the project and fielded questions from voters. The article failed by five votes.
“The weeks following the defeat were extremely difficult for staff, to say the least. Mary arrived that first week with chocolate and a heartfelt card letting us know she cared,” said Amyot.
A petition brought back the library project for a Special Town Meeting in December, but it was again defeated.
“Following the second defeat, Mary was a rock for me and the whole staff,” said Amyot. “When I asked for a Professional Development Day she approved it immediately, and I brought in a counselor from the Employee Assistance Program to help staff work through the grief, shock and anger they felt toward community members who they felt betrayed them.
“She was there for me personally as well, through my struggle to deal with my own feelings about it but having to be strong and empathetic for my staff at the same time. And she continues to always be there for all of us. She has worked with me on creating goals for the new fiscal year, encouraged me to do frequent Staff Development Days, and is always the library’s biggest advocate in the community.”
In addition, Johnston has helped with numerous events at the library.
“She’s the first one to raise her hand when we need help at a library event. It’s not unusual to find her serving pizza at our annual Open House, helping with crowd control at our Haunted Library, or scooping ice cream on Sundae Sunday,” said Amyot. “Mary is one of the most outstanding trustees I’ve had the pleasure to work with in my career. I am so thankful she joined the board here, because she truly makes a difference. Her love for this library matches my own, and I can’t wait to see what’s next while she is a trustee.”