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From Robert A. Greenspon

December 2017

Dear Friends of the Atheneum,

Can you imagine Nantucket without the Atheneum?

For over 180 years this wonderful institution has represented the best of American democratic values and traditions. A welcoming presence for all, warm in the winter and cool in the summer, the Atheneum has been the place where our community comes to expand their knowledge, to satisfy curiosities, to discuss and debate topics of all sizes and shapes – from matters of purely local importance to issues of national and international scope. The Atheneum is where our community comes – without charge – to access the world beyond Nantucket and to have fun (who doesn’t love the Turkey Plunge) and expert guidance along the way.

Thought leadership

We are the place to engage with great writers, journalists, health care experts, young people dedicated to improving living conditions in Africa, experts in robotics, food and nutrition, Alzheimer’s, childhood allergies, venture capital, water and global warming, presidential politics, cartooning – you name it. Our Geschke Lecture series and authors’ talks are wonderful opportunities for our sophisticated audiences to dive deeply into topics of great importance. And please don’t forget that your Atheneum has hosted the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau and Frederick Douglass when you next visit our historic Great Hall.

Improving lives and strengthening our community

Please stop by and visit our Weezie Children’s library where you will see first-hand the exuberance of young folks beginning their reading lives as well as the relief on the faces of moms and dads when they leave with an armload of books and DVD’s on a rainy day. Our endowed Adult Literacy program is where the immensely important job of teaching English as a second language is tackled with enthusiasm and pride. And how about all the other 1,300 programs that are simply too numerous to mention here? Or maybe you’d prefer a quiet moment to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of our garden? Take your pick – it’s free.

The Atheneum Dance Festival – Our Major Fundraiser

Each July about 20 of the world’s best dancers and musicians come to our island. That’s right, these young men and women are the cream of the crop of the very best dance companies in New York, London, Paris, Miami, and San Francisco and they all say their week at the Dance Festival is their best gig each year. The festival culminates with two sublime performances on Friday and Saturday nights, but dui-ing the week there are free workshops for our younger dancers and behind-the-scenes tutorials that provide tantalizing glimpses into the extraordinary artistic efforts – choreography, music, athleticism, pure hard physical work – involved in producing dance at the highest level. A shout out to Cathy Weinroth and her Festival committees for making this complicated set of logistics come together with apparent ease.

The Atheneum has never been stronger

Each year our Executive Director Molly Anderson, her staff and our stellar and accomplished board of directors are charged with an ambitious and somewhat daunting task: to keep the forward omentum of the institution going full steam, to find ways to improve on our delivery of services and programs and to raise privately 75% of our budget. Those of you who know the Atheneum will remember that unlike most public libraries, we are privately owned and unique in that we must raise most of our budget from our friends and supporters.

Happily, thankfully, I have the most pleasant opportunity to proudly report that we – with your gracious and generous support – have once again met this challenge.

Here’s some impressive financial food for thought: in the last 15 years the Atheneum has increased its cash and investments ten-fold. That’s an impressive strengthening of our resources by any measure, and I’d like to think that it is a testament to the great work that Molly and our staff and board do to make the Atheneum relevant and essential to our community.

Molly and David Ross, our treasurer, run a tight ship. We operate year in and year out with a balanced budget and our endowment is managed in a prudent and responsible way. Our board is engaged and tireless and fervent in their love for the Atheneum.

Our fund raising is led by our director of development, Maggie O’Reilly and her staff and by Joan Gulley who chairs our development committee. We are indebted to their hard work and professionalism. We have improved our development tools and our utilizing state of the art software to improve our ability to reach our friends and sponsors efficiently as well as to engage in the essential cultivation of new friends. We need to be engaged with the next generation and have improved our social media presence and website to make sure that we are accessible and that our profile and role in providing essential services to the community is clear and compelling.

Our challenge

The Atheneum is at a historic level of strength and vibrancy because you have embraced our mission and have recognized that your investments in the Atheneum are investments in the broad Nantucket community.  As a bonus you are also investing in the finest traditions of American democracy; you are supporting a critically important institution that is free and open to all.

With your help our goal and challenge is to insure that the Atheneum is as strong or stronger in 25 years; that the Atheneum of our children and grandchildren (and their children) is even more robustly glorious in year 2042 than it is today.

With our gratitude and most sincere thanks,

Robert A. Greenspon

Chair, Atheneum Board of Trustees