Diane X. Brown’s surprise birthday party was to begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday
At 11 a.m. an email went out to attendees to show up on time despite to the weather.
Brown sent the email out herself.
Which just goes to prove there’s no fooling with the longtime driving force behind the Stetson Branch Library in the heart of the Dixwell neighborhood.
Despite bitter cold and falling snow, nearly two dozen admirers showed up to share cake and expressions of admiration for Brown on her 57th birthday and her seventh year leading Stetson.
Under her guidance, Stetson was hailed not only as a library but a community center that has filled some of the gap since the closure of the Community “Q” House that faces it across Dixwell Avenue.
Brown said at Southern Connecticut State University’s library training program she learned the technical aspects of librarianship. Her family and friends and a loyalty to her neighborhood schooled her in community advocacy.
When it came time for her to choose an email moniker, she called herself “urban librarian,” Brown said between giving and receiving hugs from friends, local police officers, and her close-knit staff.
“My mother and growing up in this community taught me the advocacy,” she said after childhood friend Carolyn Jenkins and Aleta Staton led the crowd in Stevie Wonder’s version of “Happy Birthday” in Brown’s honor.
Dixwell Alderwoman Jeanette Morrison (pictured) presented Brown with a proclamation of the gratitude of the Board of Aldermen. “The Q House has been closed for ten years, and for ten years this place has been the Q House,” Morrison said.
On Monday the Board of Aldermen is slated to consider a proposal that integrates an expanded Stetson Branch Library as a component of a new built-from-the-ground-up Q House in order to maximize possible funding.
“It wouldn’t be happening without Diane,” Morrison added.
A product of city Catholic schools (St. John the Baptist and St. Mary’s), along with stints at Hillhouse and the early edition of High School in the Community, Brown has added an “X” to her name and made a new spiritual life for herself through membership in the Nation of Islam Muhammad Mosque #4 in Bridgeport.
Many of her admirers, young and old (pictured) drove up for the party.
Brown’s childhood friend Danni Wright said of the cold and slippery snow that kept some but hardly all of the partiers away, “This is Storm Diane.”