Library Holds Reception for Sakai

Left, Akira Sakai is presented with books as a thank you from Executive Director Cameron Duff during a reception for Sakai Wednesday at the Library. (photo by Brad Estes)

Library board members and others from the community came Wednesday morning to the Inner Circle at the library to thank Akira Sakai for his recent $6,000 donation to the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library .

Sakai is an author from Kimitsu City, Japan, and with his daughter Satomi Whittet translating, he says the donation was repayment for the service the community of Sheridan did for him, welcoming him and 12 other exchange students 38 years ago during his first visit. His love for Sheridan began then, and he has returned since. Sakai does speak some English, he gave a couple of places that draw him to Sheridan.

Aside from the sites that attract him, Sakai is mainly visiting to celebrate Bill Laya's 81st birthday. Sakai stayed with Bill and Joyce Laya of Ranchester as an exchange student, and they were at the reception. They said that it has been a joy to know Sakai, that he has been a great influence on their family, and that he is welcome in Sheridan any time.

Though his English may be limited, his understanding of American culture has been defined by Sheridan. He wrote a memoir about his return to Sheridan and it says that Sheridan, to him, represents not only a town but the United States of America.

Library Executive Director Cameron Duff thanked Sakai and presented him with copies of several books specific to Sheridan from the Wyoming Room in the library.

Books purchased with Sakai's donation were on display, and they included a number of replacements for older Library copies of Ernest Hemingway titles. Duff said that they will finish purchasing books from the donation in about six months, and that they will be able to purchase a total of about 700.