Louise Berry, who has served as Director of Darien Library for 34 years, announced today she will retire on February 28,2014.
"I have cherished every day of my time here in Darien and as Director of the Library. No one could ever hope to be in such a welcoming and supportive community -- I have made many friends, and I work with an incredible staff and Board. Next year I will complete my thirty-fifth year, and that's the right time to pass my responsibilities on to other hands."
Bruce Ferguson, President of the Library's Board of Trustees, said the Board accepted her decision reluctantly but understood the reasons for her decision. "Louise has been the heart and soul of this Library for so many years that it is difficult to think of her not as Director, but she has built such a strong staff that we are sure that the values, standards and expectations she has set for extraordinary service to the community are now the values, standards and expectations of every member of this Library."
Louise Parker Berry grew up in Chillicothe, Ohio, where she started working in libraries at the age of 13. She graduated from the University of New Mexico and received her Master's Degree in Library Service from Columbia University, where she was President of the Student Council. She was appointed Director of Darien Library on March 1, 1979. Previously she was Head of Adult Services at Westport Public Library, and before that began her career at New York Public Library. She is nationally known for developing at Darien Library the practice of "extreme customer service."
Alan Kirk Gray, currentIy Chief Administrative Officer, has been designated by the Board to succeed as Director of Darien Library on March 1, 2014. He has been with the Library for seven years and, among other responsibilities, was responsible for the planning and services incorporated into the new Darien Library which opened in January, 2009.
"Alan has been essential to the growth and success of Darien Library since he joined us, and we have all come to rely on his expertise in planning, development of services, budgeting, management and operations," said Louise Berry. "Darien Library is going to be in great shape going forward under his leadership."
"The best part of Louise telling us now," Bruce Ferguson said, "is that we have more than a year to celebrate the great things that she has contributed to the community of Darien, and to recognize her achievements for what they are -the highest standard of professionaI pubIic service. Louise Berry has made Darien Library into one of the great public libraries in the nation, but even more than that, she has, with her leadership, friendship and empathy, contributed to the lives of tens of thousands of library users and Darien residents."