Chet Greason, Gazette staff
A retirement party was held Friday at City Hall for Sam Coghlan after 33 years in the public service sector, nine of which were spent as Stratford Public Library’s CEO.
In honour of his dress down Friday policy, the party had a luau/Dr. Seuss theme. There were tiki lamps, grass skirts, and palm trees mixed in with a large painting of the cover of Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, as well as a poster, painted by librarian Robyn Godfrey, depicting a scene from Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham, which guests were invited to sign.
Dr. Seuss, besides the obvious literary associations, holds a special place in Coghlan's heart, specifically the “Sam-I-Am” character.
Various speakers, all of which worked with Coghlan throughout his career, praised the respected executive for his innovation.
Credited with being a driving force behind the Perth County Information Network (PCIN), a collaboration between Perth County libraries that sees them sharing resources, information, and supplies, Coghlan was described as a visionary who helped to redefine the library’s role in a digital world.
Jeff Williams, chair of the library board, said Coghlan’s efforts were less about linking the community into the library and more about linking the library into the community.
Mayor Dan Mathieson said he had an email folder set aside specifically for emails from Coghlan, who was constantly sending out messages with new ideas to increase the library’s accessibility.
Oxford County Library CEO Lisa Miettinen noted her organization owes its IT department to Coghlan.
“I’m very glad you live in Harrington, because that’s in Oxford County and I know you have a library card,” she said.
When Coghlan himself took the microphone, accompanied by his wife, Cher, and his granddaughter, Lily, he said he believes the role of the CEO is not to build a better library, but to build a better community using the library as a tool.
He closed his speech with a limerick he had written:
You can’t measure magic in a graph
The strength of SPL is its staff
Despite problems with parking and space
Good service comes first and they face
The future and still find time to laugh
As a parting gift, Coghlan received the signed Green Eggs and Ham poster, as well as cards, baskets, and a collection of Hawaiian shirts, labeled for each day of the week.
“But I know you’ll wear Wednesday’s shirt on Monday, just to be a shirt disturber,” joked Godfrey.
Coghlan’s position has been filled by Julia Merritt, former CEO of the North Perth Library system.