WESTERLY — Legendary longtime librarian Sallie E. Coy, who served as director the Westerly Library and Wilcox Park from 1930 to 1960, was toasted Monday morning with plenty of pomp and some good strong brews — Dave’s coffee and Luluna kombucha.
It was the soft opening of Coy Café, a coffee shop located inside the former circulation area on the first floor outside the Old Main Reading Room, which once served as Coy’s office, and members of Coy’s family, along with staff members and library trustees, gathered for a small ceremony and a test run.
The café, scheduled to open officially within the next few days, will be operated by Erika and Tim Lebling, who run the café part of Savoy Bookshop and Café on Canal Street.
“We could not be any happier to have settled into yet another fabulous building,” said Tim Lebling, who was pouring the coffee and kombucha Monday morning to the guests. “The Westerly Public Library has an amazing team and we look forward to our collaboration.”
“When Erika and I envisioned a coffee shop … being in a place where community can relax and gather and enjoy great coffee, this place was that vision,” he said, noting that the cafe will offer both hot and iced coffee, kombucha on tap, and a variety of drinks and baked goods.
“It’s really neat to honor Aunt Sallie this way,” said Coy’s nephew, John Lathrop of Westerly. “I have a lot of good memories of stopping in here to see her.”
Coy, who first started working at the library in 1911, was the library’s longest-serving director. She was born in Westerly on Sept. 6, 1892, to Frank and Bessie (Holmes) Coy, and received her first library card at age 10. Coy’s niece, the late Helen Coy Lathrop, was John’s mother.
“And the Sculcos have done such amazing things in this town,” added Lathrop. The Sculcos, Westerly natives Cynthia Davis Sculco and Dr. Thomas P. Sculco, are the benefactors behind the improvement. The married couple, who divide their time between New York City and Westerly, have spoken fondly about childhood days spent at the library when Coy was in charge. Longtime library supporters, the Sculcos helped fund the renovation of the library’s old reading room, and established the Patricia Walker Sculco Fund — named in memory of Thomas’ late stepmother — which helps fund the Children’s Summer Reading Program, among other things.
“It’s beautiful,” said Coy’s great-nephew, Daniel Lathrop, of Westerly, as he stood inside Coy Café holding his 7-month-old son, Sam, and waiting for his cup of coffee. “It looks just like it’s always been here.”
“It’s a nice addition and appropriate that it’s named for a woman who did so much for the library,” said state Sen. Dennis L. Algiere, (R- 38.) “It’s an honor for the Lathrop family too … and it’s a comfortable, welcoming space.”
Richard W. Constantine, a member of the library board of trustees building committee, said the next step in the renovation will be the reopening of the large wooden main doors which, he said, will “brighten up the Hoxie entrance and make it more welcoming.”
“It took well over two years to complete,” said Rob Holland, president of the library board of trustees. “We certainly did not rush it … we took the time necessary and we met with the Sculcos and really put our heads together. We’re super-excited to have this coffee shop.”
“It’s another convenience for our patrons,” said Library Executive Director Brigitte Hopkins. “We’ve had nothing but positive feedback.”
“It’s been a long road, but we’re extremely excited,” said Sue Ogle, vice-president of the board of trustees. “We’re thankful for the partnership with the Sculcos in making the library even more of a center.”
“Aunt Sallie would be rolling over in her grave to see food and drink served in the library,” chuckled Coy’s niece, Elizabeth L. “Betsy” Baldwin, of Jamestown. “But she was forward-thinking and I’m sure she’d adapt to the realities of libraries today.”
“She’d be pleased to see lots of people using the library,” added Baldwin, who was born and raised in Westerly. “She was passionate about the library.”