As chairman of the board of trustees at the Chilmark Public Library for 17 years, Norman Freed helped transform one of the smallest libraries on the Island into a hub for community events and a more welcoming place for kids and teens.

Mr. Freed announced in December that he would be stepping down as chairman, a position that he said brought many challenges and rewards, as well as some insight into the workings of small-town politics on the Vineyard.

“There simply is a time to move on,” said Mr. Freed, 85, who retired to the Vineyard with his wife, Diana, around 1990 after working in brokerage on Wall Street.

The couple plans to relocate to a retirement community outside of Boston at the end of January. A farewell party will be held for them at the library on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

At various times over the years, Mr. Freed served as treasurer for the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services board and the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center, and chaired the Chilmark finance and personnel committees. For several years before becoming a trustee he also served on the board of the Friends of the Chilmark Public Library.

The centerpiece of Mr. Freed’s tenure at the library was a $2.1 million renovation and expansion project that was completed in 2002. Despite the challenges, Mr. Freed said the campaign to fund the new building was among the highlights of his time in public service on the Vineyard.

“Chilmark is a pretty strange place,” he said, noting that its real estate values were among the highest in the state while its property taxes were the lowest. He also pointed to the disparity between the generally wealthy summer residents and the many year-rounders “who are struggling to make a living.”

“But basically, if you really have a good idea or you want to do something and you work on it, you can do it,” he said.

One of the goals for the library was to encourage greater use by the community. “There is so much we can bring to the community that the young families may not have,” Mr. Freed said. Computers and a public kitchen were among the many features of the new library.

The library also supports a wide variety of programs, many of which focus on kids. On Saturdays and Tuesdays, for example, kids and parents often stop by for storytelling with assistant director and children’s librarian Kristin Maloney. On Wednesdays in the summer, people might gather in the community room to hear a guest speaker.

The library has long served the Chilmark School, teaching library skills and book appreciation. Ms. Maloney said the new library has made a “huge difference” in the school program by providing more space and better resources.

Mr. Freed said that being a trustee during the campaign was a full-time commitment that required navigating the interests of both summer and year-round residents. Summer residents generally supported the project, he said, but many year-rounders opposed it for its size and cost. “That was a very tough job because those are the people who vote in Chilmark, whereas the summer people have no vote,” Mr. Freed said. “But we could get money from the summer people,” whom he said contributed “in substantial sums.”

He recalled driving around Chilmark to solicit donations with Michael Straight, who had been deputy chairman of the Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and was around 85 at the time. “We’d talk to [donors] and sometimes we’d walk away with $5,000; one time $50,000,” Mr. Freed said.

The project received a $1.1 million state grant and $300,000 in town funds – “the toughest money to get,” Mr. Freed said – in addition to about $800,000 in donations.

The new library preserved portions of the earlier structure, as well as part of a much older library that was moved to the site from Middle road. Mr. Freed credited the architect, Deborah Durland, with a job well done.

He also praised Ms. Maloney and library director Ebba Hierta for their leadership and said he was confident that the library was in good hands. A new chairman has not yet been elected, but Ms. Hierta will likely make a recommendation in the coming weeks.

Ms. Maloney, who joined the library staff about 20 years ago, said she was grateful for Mr. Freed’s dedication, loyalty and dependability over the years.

“You always know that Norman is going to figure it out, deal with it, come up with an answer,” she said. “He was just always there and always dependable and always so wonderful to work with.”

The Chilmark Public Library will host a farewell party for Mr. and Mrs. Freed on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. All are welcome.