Easton Library Celebrates Diverse Voices

Library Director Lynn Zaffino — Photo by Richard Falco

The Easton Public Library is celebrating diversity with an ongoing exhibit featuring lawn signs that highlight the voices of famous leaders.

The exhibit, titled “Voices of Diversity,” features a series of 60 signs on the Easton Public Library’s lawn. The exhibit started in February of this year and will continue through December.  Mary Beth Rassulo, head of youth services, worked with the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Task Force (EDIT) and Library Director Lynn Zaffino to put together the exhibit.

The idea to display diversity flags originated in the Town of Stratford and was then shared with the other regional libraries that are part of the Fairfield Library Administrator Group (FLAG), according to Rassulo. She said the library was looking for ways to reach out and engage with the community.

“With COVID, people weren’t coming in [to the library],” she said. “So I saw it as a way that they could take a walk outside through the lawn signs and read them and ponder.”

The library reached out to Easton organizations for quote submissions to make it a community-wide project, including the Senior Center, the schools and town offices.

“We actually got a greater response than I expected, which was so wonderful,” said Rassulo.  “It was even more than we expected. That is what really fueled it to continue.  We wanted to give everyone a chance to have their ideas represented.”

Some 50 residents participated in the project and the library staff received more than 60 quotes. Some people submitted multiple quotes. 

Assistant Director Mary Beth Rassulo — Photo by Richard Falco

The signs contain a series of quotations from a broad range of celebrities, artists, politicians, and activists. They range from Helen Keller who says, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,” to Muhammad Ali: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

A large number of the submissions came from students at Samuel Staples Elementary School and Helen Keller Middle School.

Easton resident Cathy Alfandre said she is grateful for the work the library did in putting the exhibit together.

“I think the lawn signs have been a visible, simple and ongoing way to encourage us all to think about the importance and value of diversity,” she said.

Once the signs come down the library will continue to promote diversity in the community. The library has a new Social Justice Task Force which is composed of library staff, a library board member and patrons.   

Kristine Oulman and Mary Beth Rassulo arrange signs on the library property. — Photo Richard Falco

Check out the quotations online from the Voices of Diversity digital exhibit at: https://www.eastonlibrary.org/voices-of-diversity

Learn more about the Easton Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce (EDIT) here: https://www.eastonct.gov/easton-diversity-and-inclusion-task-force-edit

The library is also working on a new resource page for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion called “A Page for All,” which will be coming soon.

All photographs by Richard Falco