Pastries, coffee, kazoos, oh my! Smith Memorial Library to celebrate annual Library Day

Chautauqua Residents Celebrated Smith Memorial Library’s 87th Birthday With A Kazoo Chorale On Thursday, August 2, 2018 Outside Of Smith Memorial Library. HALDAN KIRSCH/DAILY FILE PHOTO

Grab your coffee, your toaster strudels and your kazoos, and turn on those computer screens: It’s Library Day, people.

Chautauqua’s Smith Memorial Library turns 89 years old this year, and Scott Ekstrom is ready to celebrate. 

“We’re a community center: an iconic, beautiful building on Bestor Plaza,” said Ekstrom, the director of the Smith. “We always have as many books as we can get by those who speak at Chautauqua, and we encourage (Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle) membership. And our children’s room is an important space for intergenerational gatherings.”

At 9 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug, 6, on the Chautauqua Institution Facebook Page, Library Day will commence, giving people from all around the country and the world a chance to honor Smith Memorial Library and to share their favorite books with each other, too.

“The library is the blood of the literary arts department,” said Sony Ton-Aime, Chautauqua’s director of literary arts. “It’s a very important day, because we want to encourage people to read, and the place to do so is the library. We want to keep this resource that we have alive.”

Library Day is hosted by the Friends of Smith Memorial Library, a group of library patrons who help promote and support the library in a variety of ways.

“Usually, the in-person version (of Library Day) includes inviting librarians from Western New York to the grounds,” Ekstrom said. “We’ll have no in-person physical gathering because of the pandemic, but most other things we’re trying to do digitally, with one exception — we will not have digital coffee or donut holes. So bring your own coffee or toaster strudel to your computer.”

A highlight of Library Day for the last six years is the kazoo chorale, Ekstrom said, which involves a group of Chautauquans — armed with kazoos — playing various songs on the library’s front steps.

“There’s not really any reason for it, except that it’s fun,” he said. “Obviously this year, we’re not going to be on the front steps, spitting on each other. So instead, we’re inviting people to email 30-second videos of either themselves or of so-called ‘quaranteam’ bands playing kazoos, to We’ll be posting those videos on Facebook.”

Ekstrom said other Library Day highlights include a temporary Facebook profile frame that users can add to their profile pictures, as well as an opportunity to join the Friends of the Smith Memorial Library or make a gift to the library at

Tags : Chautauqua Literary and Scientific CircleCLSCLibrary Dayliterary artsSmith Memorial Library

The author Chris Clements

Chris Clements is reporting on literary arts during his third summer with The Chautauquan Daily. He has previously written previews for the Interfaith Lecture Series and Sacred Song Services and covered literary arts digitally in 2020. Chris is a second-year grad student at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in creative writing, specializing in fiction. He’s passionate about all things related to literature, music and film, especially author David Foster Wallace, jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant and the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.