Danbury Library celebrates 150 years of history
The Danbury Library has a long, illustrious history and like much of the “Hat City” its early success had a lot to do with, well — hats.
The library was incorporated on June 5, 1869, but it was a year later that wealthy hat factory executive Alexander M. White and his brother, George Granville White, gave the library a gift that ensured its future.
The brothers donated their family’s homestead at 254 Main St. to library trustees for use “until a suitable building could be erected on the property,” wrote James Montgomery Bailey in his book “History of Danbury, Conn., 1684-1896.”
The White brothers also donated land and provided funding to move the house to a rear lot and construct a new building on the premises. Construction of the still-standing High Victorian Gothic-style library commenced in 1877 and wrapped up in 1879.
Some 91 years later, the handsome red-brick building had become too small for the growing Danbury community and the present-day library at 170 Main St.
Library Director Katie Pearson said the library has been a staple in the community for a long time and continues “providing residents with access to things they need and want.”
Libraries have moved from being “a book repository to a technology center,” Pearson said.
Today, the library offers electronic books, movies, CDs and audiobooks — and even has a recording studio. There are also, of course, computers for patrons to use.
Over the next 150 years, Pearson said she hopes the library continues to evolve as tech and community needs change, and remain a “vibrant” part of the community.
“I hope it’s still a place where people can come in and feel welcome and safe,” she said. “That’s something that it’s always provided, so I hope to see that stay the same.”
To celebrate its 150th anniversary next month the library will host a party from 5 to 7 p.m. June 5, as well as other programs throughout the month.
“We will have a library history display up for viewing,” said Tara Carvalho, program and outreach coordinator at the library. “We will also have a library scavenger hunt available for patrons to play … and a message wall for patrons to write reasons they love the library.”
The party on the library’s plaza will feature food trucks, arts and crafts and live music, as well as magic tricks, balloon twists and face painting. There will also be a Friends of the Danbury Library book sale.
And the library also plans to share some of the voice recordings from its Oral History Project.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have several current and past Danbury residents share their history with us,” said digital services librarian Amanda Gilbertie. “We’re hoping to have some of their stories up on our website in time for the 150th anniversary.”
For a list of events visit danburylibrary.org.