EXPERIENCE THE REBRANDING OF THE COOL NEW WESTPORT LIBRARY
No doubt you have heard about the Westport Library Transformation Project by now—the $20-million renovation that will do for the building what removing her reading glasses and releasing her locks from a tight bun might do for Marian the Librarian. The space will be modern, flexible, awe-inspiring, and—if branding expert Moshe Aelyon has his way—sexy. His role is to make sure anyone who enters the library has a memorable experience, especially during the eclectic FLEX series he has masterminded for March. Read on to learn more about what this wizard of wow has in store for us.
BE SURE TO CATCH THEM ALL
Events this March FLEX your thinking of a nimble library
The Westport Library has been working toward its ultimate renovation for years, bringing with it a new dawn for libraries. No longer just stocking books, the library will also serve as a community hub for patrons’ varied interests, such as music, technology, collaborative work and lectures.
“Increasingly, people need libraries to support traditional learning while providing spaces for essential collaboration. and connection with one another,” says Executive Director Bill Harmer. “There is no doubt the new building will be spectacular—complete with the latest technology, the best amenities and an exceptional collection of digital and analog materials. But without people, a spectacular building full of features is just that. It needs a community to bring it to life.”
That evolved concept needs to be explained to stalwart and new library users. Harmer and his team tasked Moshe with the job. Traveling by train between meetings in his former home base, Westport, and his current home base, New York City, Moshe pondered how best to do it. FLEX took shape.
Using a new series of events as a way of rebranding the library didn’t just come out of nowhere. When Harmer called him about the reimagined library and how to explain it to the town, Moshe’s knew it had to be something big, held over a series of days and, above all, experiential. He specializes in events, which explains why his thoughts naturally ran to a party for the community.
Harmer was sold. “The FLEX series,” he says, “will give a preview of what’s to come, almost a year before the new building is actually finished, by transforming the Great Hall into a vast open space and filling it with interesting and unexpected events.”
For more on what to expect, read Jill Johnson’s interview with Moshe (at right). For event details, including venues, times and fees, go to westportlibrary.org. The kickoff will arrive in a flash.
Celebrity Lunch: Former White House Chef
Sam Kass with Jane Green and Elissa Altman
Dance classes with Jose Ozuna • Matinees featuring Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman • Food talk with Ruth Reichl, Bill Taibe, Annie Farrell and Lulu Powers • Dinner with Ruth at The Whelk
Authors and musicians throughout the day
Gala dinner and dance with Chevy Chevis and her band, celebrating Eartha Kitt
Talking tech with David Pogue, illustration with Tim Fite and other children’s book pros
Q&A with the man with the vision: Mosh
Where are you from and how did you end up here?
I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. I came to the States at eighteen and Westport at twenty-seven. We chose Westport, to raise a family, because it was forward thinking and quaint, education was paramount and it was thought of as an artist colony. I lived here for twenty-three years and moved to Harlem in July of 2016.
Tell us about your company?
I’ve been an event planner and entertainment consultant for twenty-three years, but recently I decided to rebrand. That job is burdensome on a fifty-three-year-old body. Today, there are major challenges to giving clients a sense of what they are supposed to feel. We’ve become so digital; the noise is muffling the client experience. I created my company to bring to life that experience for hospitality brands. Little did I know my first client would be a library. Bill Harmer told me the library is a hospitality brand. He wants to make sure patrons come in and enjoy the space. What really sold me was Bill’s vision of turning Westport Library into the future of libraries. I’ve come full circle because, coincidentally, I was brought in for some branding and fundraising for the library twenty years ago.
Tell us about the FLEX series coming up.
I’m producing a program from March 21 to 25—five days of experiences. My goal is not only fundraising but also giving current library users and audiences who are not as familiar with the space the opportunity to understand this is becoming a community center. FLEX came out of my questions regarding the future of the library. In my mind, the great hall has to become a work and display space that is flexible. It has to be intellectually stimulating, but also incredibly sexy and playful. On March 21, we will have a celebrity lunch hosted by Jane Green, emceed by Elissa Altman, with a talk by Sam Kass—former Obama White House chef and senior policy advisor for nutrition. My goal is for people to come into the main hall and feel like they’ve stepped into an experience, as you would if you were going to the Met for the Costume Gala. On March 22, Alvin Ailey dancer Jose Ozuna will be teaching two classes and there will be a cinema matinee, with movies featuring Joanne and Paul. That night there will be a food lovers Q-n-A with Ruth Reichl [Gourmet and NY Times food critic]. March 23 is a day of live music with local artists and readings and book signings with local authors. Expect to see Brian Dolzani, Twice Around, the Mike Cusato Band, Ethan Walmark, Suzy Bessett and Rob Morton. March 24 is our evening gala, with delicious food and dancing to Chevy Chevis and her band, honoring Westport treasure the late Eartha Kitt. March 25 is Flex Sunday Funday, a family day of arts and crafts, face painting, story time by local authors, magic and interactive drawing with illustrator Tim Fite. Diego Montiel will come with his typewriter and you can write a love letter to Westport or the library.
Wow, that’s quite a line-up! Is this series a way of maximizing the library’s utility while renovations are underway?
Exactly. We have timed the events in March so that we essentially have an empty warehouse as a venue. The renovations upstairs begin after FLEX. While the building is under construction, we will have these pop-up events.
What else are you focusing on?
Strengthening the branding. In order for us to present FLEX, we needed a beautiful presentation. I came up with a brand look that will be consistent from now on and a social media strategy called “I am.” People will be invited to come have their photos taken. We will have 150 to 200 to start and then roll out the campaign. The third initiative I’ve spearheaded is a local artist installation.
Where do you find inspiration? The 92nd Street Y in New York. Dokk1, a library in Aarhus, Denmark. There are huge changes coming along. Libraries are becoming flexible spaces for work and play. Curiosity, creativity, community—these are my inspiration and what drive this brand.
What Books Are On Your Bedside Table?
There are twenty-four. I’m not joking. I am a book hoarder! Recently I came across a dollar book sale on a street on the Upper West Side. I bought so many, I could barely walk home. I bought a book today, Paris for One by Jojo Moyes, because I forgot one to read on the train. I have this fantasy of living in Europe for six months.
Well, Westport hopes you don’t run off quite yet!