Founding of Darien Library
The Library was founded in May 1894. The two Darien residents responsible for the Library are George Platt Brett, Sr. and Annis Brady. Our former director, Louise Parker Berry, hosts a history of the Library in the "Darien Library: A Yankee Passion" video.
There were previous attempts to found a library before the 1894 launch going back to the early 1800s. Andrew Carnegie offered funds to create a Carnegie Library, but he was turned down. The town then decided to start the Library themselves. Lucretia Cullen was the first librarian.
We have had the good fortune to have been guided by the future-thinking Board of Trustees over the years.
The Once in a Lifetime Library
The current building was funded over a three-year capital campaign. A strategic plan completed in 2002 showed that active community use meant we were too popular for our former smaller building, and we planned to expand the building on its site to provide more space for the additional and expanded services as requested by our users. When that proved not possible, the Board determined to build a new Darien Library, adopted the motto "Once in a lifetime a community builds a library," which resonated with residents who backed the initiative, with 1,800 families contributing to the capital campaign.
The Library Board undertook by far the largest private fundraising in the history of Darien, which, when coupled with the sale of the 35 Leroy Avenue building to the Town, provided the resources to build the new library.
The Library was designed by architect Peter Gisolfi of Peter Gisolfi Associates from Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. His design resulted in a 54,000 square foot building that was cited by Library Journal as one of five need-to-see new library buildings. The building is designed in classic New England style, projecting a sense of solidity and timelessness externally while many windows add light and transparency to the structure internally. An achievement of Gisolfi's work is that the Library is LEED Gold certified for environmental sustainability; it was the first library in New England to meet this standard.
Surrounding the building is native foliage. A fountain and courtyard are placed between the parking lot and entrance as a relaxing warm weather venue. In cold weather, children often stop to toss snowballs into the empty pool. On summer nights, there may be concerts or astronomy viewing programs to enjoy.
We opened at the current location on January 10, 2009. That day, we welcomed 7,200 patrons to visit their new library. Since then, we see more than 350,000 visits each year. The Library is open 69 hours per week to meet the community's needs.
Aside from the everyday use of the Library, if severe weather affects the Town, we open our doors for longer hours to be a welcoming and safe place for the community to come together.
Our building is special. It was thoughtfully put together with patron satisfaction and sustainability features in mind. To view the building highlights, Gold LEED Certification & sustainable features, and plant names, view the Building Information.