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Greenwich Almanac: The Greenwich Library

The Greenwich Library , with more than 1,100 programs and events each year, is a crossroads of culture and education for the community. The book-lending institution, which dates to the 1800s, once sat at 113 Greenwich Ave.

In about 1805, a small collection of books from the Ebenezer Mead House began to circulate among Greenwich residents who subscribed for $6 a share. Group members were allowed to borrow one book for each share they owned. This eventually became the Greenwich Town Library. A reading room was opened in 1877 at the northeast corner of Lewis Street and Greenwich Avenue. During the following year, it was incorporated by the Joint Resolution of the Connecticut General Assembly as the Greenwich Reading Room and Library Association. By 1907, the library was named its current title, The Greenwich Library. Around $125,000 was privately raised for a large addition to the building in 1929.

After an unsuccessful capital campaign for $600,000  in the mid 1950s to increase the space on Greenwich Avenue, the library was able reach $100,000 for a development fund. By 1960, the library had outgrown its location and moved to its current address on West Putnam Avenue.

The library received the largest donation made to a town library by Clementine Lockwood Peterson in 1992. In her will, Peterson left $25 million to expand the library and its music collection in memory of her husband, J. Whitney Peterson, and son, Jonathan. More than $16 million was used to construct a 32,000-square-foot wing. The remainder was invested to generate income for maintenance of the new project. The Greenwich Library also oversees the Cos Cob Library and Byram Shubert Library branches.

More than 700,000 visitors and 1.4 million materials circulate through the library each year. In the fall of 2010, the library was named a five-star library by the Library Journal for a second year. It was ranked 10th in the United States among public libraries with budgets of $5 million to $10 million.

Toddlers to adults will find a program to suit their interest at the library, from monthly concerts and computer literacy classes for adults to a junior book club and craft activities for kids.

Residents can volunteer for the Greenwich Library Oral History project, which conducts ongoing research and interviews of town and personal histories. The collection holds more than 800 interviews and has published them in 136 books that circulate through the Greenwich Library and its branches. One of the newest programs is Greenwich Reads Together. The communitywide reading program engages the community in reading one book. People will have opportunities to discuss and participate in programs about the book.

The Greenwich Library is located at 101 W. Putnam Ave. It is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 203-622-7900.

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