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Our History

Library Directors

Susan Griffiths

Patricia LaTerza
Lois Baldini
Mary Faust
Robert A. Martin
Elizabeth Kingseed
Edward H. Chase
Mrs. J. Parker Chapman (Vivie)

November 2019 - Present

August 2016 - November 2019
March 1983 - July 2016 
Sept 1978 – August 1982
June 1974 - July 1978
August 1972 – April 1974
July 1962 - Sept 1972
1955 – 1962

Our History

In 1883, Silas L. Bradley of Auburn, NY left a bequest of $1,000 to his "native town of North Haven" to be used to establish a library.  The sum was to be available if an association could be formed within one year.  A town meeting was held on September 5th to act upon the provisions of the bequest.  At that meeting seven residents were chosen to become the incorporators of the library.  In 1884 a charter was granted to the Bradley Library Association.   The newly organized library was located on Broadway in the home of Dr. Austin Lord.  It opened on October 2, 1884.  Its first librarian was Miss Alice Lord, a graduate of Mt. Holyoke.  The library remained in the Lord home until 1887. In 1887 the need for more space required the library to seek new quarters.  It moved to the newly constructed Memorial Town Hall.  It was supported through subscription fees and donations as well as a donation of $1,000 from the late Mrs. Jane Bradley, widow of its original benefactor. In 1893, at their annual town meeting, the townspeople voted that $150 be given to the library with the condition that it be free and open to the public.  With the implied understanding that Town support would be ongoing, the library directors hastened to comply.  On October 3, 1893 the directors declared North Haven's library to be a free public library.


The library name was changed in 1907 from the Bradley Association to the North Haven Memorial Library.  The directors believed that this would serve to acknowledge the importance memorial bequests had in the establishment of the library as well as to encourage future donations. Between 1907-1931 various gifts of monies, land and trusts made possible the construction of a new library.  The momentum was initiated in 1922 with a bequest from the estate of Frank L. Stiles, a local brick manufacturer.  In the 1930s the site was donated by Delia Viles and Olivia Heaton in memory of their parents Alfred and Polly Linsley. The new library was dedicated in 1938.  The North Haven Memorial Library was designed by Robert Booth in the Colonial Revival style.  It was build by the C. F. Wooding Company at a cost of $ 26,899.52.  This building is currently known as the North Haven Cultural Center housing both the North Haven Historical Society and the North Haven Art Guild. The Memorial Library Association continued to administer the library into the 1960s.  By 1966 the Association had assumed the operation of the Martha Culver Library as well.  Begun in 1912 by the Friday Afternoon Club, this private library was first located in the vestibule of the Baptist Church.  Martha Culver Smith was one of the original members of the Club.  When she died in 1927 she left her home and the surrounding land to the Town with the stipulation that is be used for library purposes.  The Friday Afternoon Club continued its sponsorship until 1962 when the library was turned over to the Town's control. 


By 1966 the Board of Selectmen believed that coordination of the two libraries by the Memorial Library Association would improve services to the Town. The Association itself realized that it needed to clarify its relationship to the Town in light of the substantial Town support it was receiving.  It was determined that it would be in the best interests of the Town to have the ownership and operation of the library placed under Town control. In 1968 a building committee was appointed by the Board of Selectmen.  Its charge was to plan a new library.  Arnold C. Mogensen, Architect, of West Hartford, was selected in 1969 to design the new library. In 1970 the Library Association offered the Town the existing library building and all land deeded to them for library use in return for the Town building a new facility.  The Board of Finance voted an appropriation of $850,000 for the new construction.  This amount was approved at a special town meeting in July 1970.  The new building was to be erected on the ball field behind the existing structure.  In 1971 the Franklin Construction Co., of Hamden was awarded the bid to erect the new library.  Ground was broken for the project in May, 1971.  The  fourth home of the North Haven Memorial Library was dedicated on June 25, 1972.  This building was a 22,000 square foot facility with a community room for 100 and a Children's Department of 5700 square feet.   


While the Town appointed Board assumed responsibility for the library, the Memorial Library Association continued to function.  Its role is now as administrator of certain endowments which it retained.  Its continuing support has been used to provide seed money for new collections. The Martha Culver Library's use as a recreation library ended in 1978.  A survey conducted by the staff attested to the library's limited use. The services for which it was being used were more appropriately handed by the Recreation Department.  As a result of the survey the Library Board decided to concentrate library activities at the main library.  The library currently maintains a book drop at the Martha Culver site, which is now the Culver-Brockett Museum. In the late 1990's, space once again became an issue.  A $5 million addition and renovation of the library was planned and in December 1999 the library closed its doors.  Ninety percent of the library's collection was stored at an off-site storage facility.  A month later, the library opened at the Knights of Columbus building at 23 Broadway.  The location brought the library back to its original home, that of Dr. Austin Lord.  The library operated from this location for almost two years before the move back to the new library. The renovation at 17 Elm Street includes a new second floor and expansion of the front lobby, an addition of 9250 square feet.  We now enjoy 29,450 square feet of usable space. The building has larger stack areas, more seating, expanded computer facilities, two study rooms, enhanced programming in both children's and adult areas, and a new facade.  It is completely accessible to the physically challenged. The renovated facility opened to the public on December 3, 2001.  The Grand Opening and dedication took place on January 13, 2002. On September 27, 2003 an outdoor reading garden was dedicated.  This is a gift from the North Haven Memorial Library Association.  



Last updated October 8, 2003.

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