From 1922 to Today
Darien’s original Public Library was organized by the Fairfield-Darien Book Club on December 16, 1922, spearheaded by two of its members, Mrs. Myra and Mrs. Gertrude Brottlund.
On November 1, 1923, the Darien Public Library Association was organized, with Guy Brigham as its first president. The first library was located in a room on the second floor of the Young Building. On June 15, 1928, a 2-story residence was purchased from Mrs. J.F. Rood to enable the library to better serve the needs of its growing number of patrons. This building was moved from the south side of Beloit Street to a location across the street. In 1961 the library was remodeled and a children’s library and reading area was created on the 2nd floor.
The need for more space to accommodate our community’s growing library needs was becoming increasingly apparent to Library and Village Board members, patrons and staff.
Sandralee Thiele, Library Board member since 1983 and Library Board President until February 2015, together with Philip Putnam of the Village of Darien Board, successfully applied to the State of Wisconsin for a grant for a bigger library.
Village of Darien Board members and Trustees, and the Darien Library Board approved the plans of Architect Russell DePietro Design Associates, and Gary Gilbank was selected as the General Contractor for our new Library, which would incorporate a Senior Citizen Center. Robert Wenzel, Village Trustees President, and Chairperson of the Building Committee, assured Darien residents that the new building “won’t increase the tax burden”. Wenzel said he was confident that the new building would “serve a wide variety of needs, and quickly become a true social and educational hub for a growing community…I think it’s one of the best things that could happen”. Sandralee Thiele and Philip Putnam then worked closely with the architects to ensure the layout of the building would be put to its best use. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 5, 2003, and the new Darien Library opened on April 19, 2004.
Our new Library, at 47 Park Street, Darien was built in 2004. Camille Rammer was the Director of the Library at this time. Jeannine Heskett, our current Library Director, worked at the original library and was active in every aspect of the transition to our new location. We now have a total of 6,000 square feet, and a senior citizen center. Our collection has grown from 9,000 to 32,000 items today, including newspapers, magazines and Zinio free e-magazine downloads, DVDs, Audio Books, and Playaways. The library is open 40 hours a week, and the number of our patrons is now nearly 24,000 with an average of 2,000 patron visits per month. We have also added computers, two photocopiers and a fax machine. Our wide variety of programming such as our yearly Summer Reading Program, craft classes, our Halloween party, Christmas gift basket silent auction, Book Club, and Spring baskets provide a great opportunity for community interaction for patrons of all ages.
The library also has formed a solid relationship with Darien Elementary School. Classes visit the library at regularly scheduled times for stories and crafts.