When the Library Returns to “the Big House”

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Happy New Year! For Suffield, one of the highlights of 2019 will be the re-opening of the Kent Memorial Library on North Main Street. What a joyous occasion that will be!

The Friends of KML are especially looking forward to the pleasure of viewing the three large photos that were hung on the wall of the lower lobby in 1992, and were removed and stored for the recent renovations. Some Suffield residents may not be aware of how and why these photos came to our library.

Eugene Biggio served as director of the library from 1979 until his death in 1989. When he arrived, he moved into an apartment on North Main Street and embraced life in Suffield, becoming an active member of the Suffield Players and an enthusiastic volunteer at the annual Friends book sale, as well as a great library director. His premature death from pneumonia stunned our community. When his relatives came to Suffield for the calling hours, they were moved by the outpouring of affection expressed by hundreds of people.

Those of us then on the Board of the Friends wanted to donate a meaningful memorial in honor of Gene. Knowing of his love of black and white photography, we began searching for photos that would serve as a fitting, permanent tribute. One of our members came across some wonderful black and white Suffield photos taken in 1945 by renowned photographer Gordon Parks to document rural life for the Farm Security Administration, and we learned that the original negatives were stored at the University of Louisville. With encouragement from the library co-directors who succeeded Gene, the Friends selected and purchased three large prints and had them nicely framed. They were hung alongside a small plaque commemorating Gene.

This memorial will continue to honor Gene and enhance the appearance of the library for generations to come. They add to its historical collection as well, since they document a major aspect of old Suffield. When the library re-opens, the Friends hope that residents will stop by the lower lobby to admire these beautiful photos and perhaps remember Gene Biggio.

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