Greenwich Library and Reading Association Part 2

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When war broke out in the 1940s, the library switched gears.  Classes were given in First Aid  and Victory Garden exhibitions were given in the art gallery. (Franklin Simon employees even planted a Victory Garden on our current property!) A vacant store north of the library was used as a receiving station for 31,000 books, which were donated to the Victory Book Campaign and sent to soldiers overseas.

Once again it was determined that the library had outgrown its space by 1950.  Miss Hurlbutt and the town undertook a $600,000 capital campaign to enlarge the Greenwich Avenue building.  However, the campaign failed to achieve its goal - only $263,000 was raised.   Unfortunately, It had to compete with Greenwich Hospital, which had hired professionals to run its campaign.  The Board put the money raised into a bank account until a year later when it decided the recently vacated Franklin Simon Store would make a good library.  The town stepped in and appropriated $100,000 to "prime the pump". A second capital campaign  achieved its goal.  As a result, the library moved from the little building on Greenwich Avenue to its present location on March 14, 1960.

The Library Board undertook several smaller capital campaigns from the 1960s to 1990s.  In 1969, the Cole Auditorium was built.  It was constructed in such a way that a second floor could be built above it.  This is exactly what happened in 1981 following the "Raise the Roof" capital campaign (1978).  A second floor and mezzanine (with 9 study rooms) were added.  In 1983 another mezzanine in the Periodicals area was added, and still later second floor offices and a Cafe were built.

Then suddenly in 1992, the library received a $25 million bequest from Mrs. Clementine Lockwood Peterson - the largest gift ever to a public library.  An independent Foundation was created to disburse the funds, and expand the business and music collection.  The library used $16.5 million to build the 32,000 sq ft addition known as the Peterson Wing. 

During this time, another capital campaign was launched to renovate and modernize the old building.  The Board was concerned about service and the fast-changing state of technology.  Once again the residents cast a vote of confidence in the library by donating $11,250,000, which was used to update the libraries computer technology.  This involved buying adjacent property, which had been used by a Cadillac dealership, to greatly expand the parking lot.The Peterson Wing was officially opened on June 12, 1999 and the renovation of the old building was completed in 2000.  I think it's fair to call The Greenwich Library the "jewel" of Greenwich - one of its most important resources.

As the Library looks to the future, it's striving to keep current with change. The library is composed of a variety of groups, which work well with each other in implementing new programs and services. Resources Management makes sure the Library can provide current print and electronic materials. Lending Services make sure materials are available.   The Technical Training Center provides the public with training on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. The Teen Committee  finds ways to engage Teens with Wii, Guitar Hero and other  programs.   Ed Morrissey has worked hard to expand ADA Technology. Librarians help patrons use electronic and print materials. The IT Department makes sure library hardware works properly.  Public Relations makes sure information gets out on materials and programs.  Many people participate in more than one area.  Custodians make sure the facility is clean and serviceable.  In addition to their regular duties, they've taken on additional work. 

Interestingly enough, the library may actually experience a period of expanding space!  Technology has led to smaller size in the case of CDs, DVDs and even books.  (You can fit many books onto downloadable devices.)  This may free up shelf and other space for other purposes (e.g. Teen Center).

It's safe to say, Greenwich Library will continue to grow and change as technology changes.  It may look a little different, but it will still be the same cultural center we all love.



Greenwich Library; Peterson, Harry N.; Chicago, ALA, 1962

Greenwich Library; Nicholson, M.; Greenwich, OHP, 1976

The Greenwich Library Since 1960: Cole, Marie and Nolan Lushington; Greenwich,OHP, 1978

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Carl White published on December 26, 2010 3:10 PM.

Greenwich Reading Room and Library Association Part 1 was the previous entry in this blog.

Off to the Races! is the next entry in this blog.

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