Building & History
Every decision in our new building project — from design to material selection — has considered the human impact on the environment, today and in the future. From optimized daylight to efficient heating and cooling systems to solar energy systems, sustainability has been a major focus of this project. Some of the building’s primary energy and resource conservation strategies include renewable energy generation; state-of-the-art electric heat pumps and energy recovery systems; locally sourced materials; daylight-capturing optimization strategies; and high-performance, bird-friendly glazing. Together, these features reduce the Library’s energy consumption by up to 80% from the baseline average for this climate region while ensuring a healthier, more comfortable environment for Library visitors and staff members.
New Canaan Library has been the Town’s intellectual center since 1877, when it began as an Elm Street storefront reading room founded by volunteers with donated books and the funds they raised.
In 1895 the Library became a public-private partnership with the Town, based on the first annual Town grant of $100. Recognizing the benefits of an excellent library, residents Albert Comstock and Jesse St. John made estate gifts to the Library. These legacy gifts allowed the Library, in 1913, to build its present building on the corner of Cherry and Main. In the tradition of Comstock and St. John, New Canaan residents continued to generously support the Library and its capital drives for expansions in 1937, 1952, and 1979.
The desire to support the Library in broadening its offerings has inspired donors over the years to endow valuable programs such as the Salant and Stoddard Lecture series, and to underwrite the cost of programs, services, furniture and much more. This spirit of philanthropy and support continues through gifts to the Annual Appeal, the Patron Society, Endowment, dedicated gifts, and the many programs and collections that make New Canaan Library the focal point of the community and the source for discovery and inspiration.
Today, the Library is a vibrant community resource for learning and innovation, offering an extraordinary print and digital collection, dynamic programming, reader’s advisory services, technology assistance, spaces to study, work, and reflect, and much more.
New Canaan Library looks confidently towards the future, embracing its mission to be an essential place for lifelong learning and a vibrant hub for knowledge, culture, and connection for everyone in our community. We do this by staying committed to three core values: lifelong learning, community, and inclusion. Through innovative, thoughtful programming and carefully curated collections the Library seeks to not only reflect, but ignite, community interests. Strategic planning and close attention to community feedback guides the Library in planning for near, and more long term goals. From compelling art exhibitions, musical performances and documentary film series to wellness seminars, workshops in robotics, and coding, New Canaan Library renews and expands upon its founding principle to be not only the intellectual and cultural center of New Canaan, but the place to build connections and foster community engagement.