For her contributions in putting together an advocacy team of 17 community leaders to advocate for the $9.5 million override project for Abbot Public Library, EuRim Chun is Essex Media Group’s “Person of the Year” for Marblehead.
Chun’s history of volunteerism in Marblehead has certainly left an impact on the community, especially in the education system.
She served as the chair of the School Committee, was involved with parent teacher organizations, spent time as a museum volunteer, and was a library trustee. She was also involved with school overrides during her time spent in the education system, setting the stage for her to take on a role for the library override.
Chun says the town runs off of volunteerism, and it makes a huge impact in the community.
“What I take pride in is the fact that our community encourages, inspires, and invites volunteerism. It is kind of the greatest gift of our town.”
Now, she is using that gift to help restore one of the town’s most historic buildings. After being approached in 2018 by two library trustees who needed someone to undertake the override campaign, Chun became president of the Abbot Public Library Foundation.
While she played a big part in getting the override approved, Chun says that this honor should be shared with everyone who played a role.
“This is an incredible honor because it means that I’m honoring all of the volunteers that came together to work with me to pass the override,” she said.
The advocacy committee was set up to inform the community about the need to renovate the historic landmark that has served Marblehead for 146 years and was in desperate need of attention.
The Abbot Public Library began as a study room in 1877 at Abbot Hall, founded with the generosity of private citizens and children who supported the project by donating 25 cents: A private-public partnership from the beginning.
Upgrading the library meant addressing the building’s outdated infrastructure system. Planners had two options: Close the library if the current infrastructure system wasn’t addressed, or establish an override for a renovation project.
Knowing this, Chun and the committee weren’t going to let the library close, because she couldn’t stand to see the town lose a piece of itself.
“What I’m passionate about is our schools and our library, because to me I can’t imagine our community without the schools, library, and the museum,” she said. It’s making sure that the most important people are educated at schools and libraries. It’s our next generation.”
The previous trustees along with the town determined the need for the renovation project.
Chun, along with the Abbot Public Library advocacy team, assembled and issued a dire warning to the community: The heart of the town pumping lifelong learning, innovation, culture, and knowledge — free for more than a century — was in danger of ceasing to beat.
Serving as the chair of the advocacy team and Abbot Public Library Board of Trustees, Chun’s successful advocacy team helped pass the override in June of 2021.
The Board of Trustees along with Chun helped create and build momentum to foster a sense of community pride and lay claim to the library as a town treasure.
“I think when we passed the override in 2021, the fact that almost 70 percent of those who went to the polls to say ‘yes’ to the library, we felt pretty good that that was a reflection on our community and how the community felt about the library. That this library that’s 146 years old, it means a lot to our town and that it really served as kind of the heart of our town,” said Chun.
Even though $9.5 million was the price tag for the project, $8.5 million was needed from town taxpayers, who said yes to the override, with $1 million raised from private citizens by the Abbot Public Library Foundation.
“For us, it’s preserving 146 years of history, it’s protecting the seed of our democracy. Without free knowledge and education, you can’t really have a democracy,” said Chun.
With a tagline of “Our 17th-century town deserves a 21st-century library” Chun recognizes what kept the library going for all of those years is the private-public partnership, the volunteers, and a community that has always been known for its generosity.
She added that above all else, the library is what bands Marbleheaders and their community together, further highlighting the project’s importance
“The library is what brings everybody together. The library above every building in Marblehead brings everybody together,” she said.
To continue its legacy, Abbot Public Library will open its doors in mid to late 2024.
“I just feel very honored to be a part of that tradition. You know, the tradition of caring for, protecting and keeping alive the library and then passing it forward to the next generation, ” said Chun passionately.