Brainerd Memorial Library
920 SAYBROOK ROAD, HADDAM, CT 06438     P:860.345.2204

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Library History

Opening Day—October 13, 1908

1793 – Haddam had its first library company. It was closed in 1808.

1818 – Library Association of Haddam was formed.

1820 – The Library Association was divided into 2 libraries, each with their own librarian. They were located at the northern and southern ends of the Middlesex turnpike in Haddam.

1887 – The Library Association catalogue rules called for a $1.00 fee to become a subscriber for 1 year. Subscribers could borrow 2 books for 2 weeks. Overdue fines were 1 cent a day. If books were lost or returned in poor condition the subscriber had to replace them.

1896 – The Haddam Library Association was restarted. The librarian was Mrs. Mary Emma Brainerd. The library had around 460 books. Its collection had 2000 books when it was turned over to the new library.

1906 – The Brainerd Memorial Library Association was formed. Judge Ephraim P. Arnold donated the land where the current library stands and the building was presented by Cyprian Strong Brainerd, Jr.   Cyprian Strong Brainerd truly believed in the Library.   At the dedication he declared, “The building is but the shell which holds the pearl.” The construction of the Library took 2 years.

1908 – The original, front section of the current library was designed by McLean and Wright of Boston and was dedicated on October 13.

1940’s – The Library was in a fairly secure financial position.

1957 – The Library had $114,930 in its investment funds.  It was one of a few in Connecticut that ran on its own funding (private bequests and gifts) from its founding until 1976, when it obtained its first appropriation from the town.

1958 – The Library’s 50th anniversary. The collection consisted of 13,000 volumes, circulation was 9,000 and there were 900 registered borrowers.

1960 – The dogwood trees in front of the Library were planted.

1962 – The reading area was renovated for Haddam’s Tercentenary Celebration.

1969 – The Library purchased a 30-foot wide strip of land from the Porters, extending its holdings to the north and east.

1970 – The parking lot was started. It was completed in 1971.

1971 – City Savings Bank donated a Book Drop.

1977-78 – A blizzard caused extensive damage to the main floor area. The roof needed to be replaced. A temporary loan was secured.

1979 – $26,300 was appropriated to pay for the roof.

1983 – The Library’s 75th anniversary. The Hartford Courant stated that the Library had served as an unofficial museum for the Town’s history, a theater for local productions and an art gallery. (The Library’s historical material was given to the Haddam Historical Society.)

1986 – The Library had grown to 18,000 volumes. The Library was running out of space to hold its collections and provide modern services to the people of Haddam.

1993 – The Board of Trustees decided to build an addition. The capital campaign to raise funds began. The cost of the project was around $1.05 million. $700,000 needed to be raised to obtain a state grant of $350,000. The architects were King and Tuthill.

1994 – The Library sold a significant 18th century painting by Sibyl Huntington May at Sotheby’s for $130,000. A copy of the painting is over the front desk.

1996 – The new addition was completed. It doubled the size of the building from 4,114 to 10,594 square feet.

2004 – The materials in the History Room were cataloged and the room was restored.

2006 – The rotunda was restored with funds donated by the generous people of Haddam.

2010 – A new disabled access ramp was built.

Today the Library is a beautiful light filled structure, which houses; over 32,000 books, including bestsellers, fiction and non fiction, reference materials, local history and genealogical materials, DVDs, videos, CDs, audio-books, large print books, magazines, newspapers, museum passes, downloadable audio-books, downloadable e-books, Spanish language materials, and provides access to computer databases on its web site, offers many programs, circulates 57,447 items annually, and has 7,156 registered borrowers (as of 2016).

We invite and encourage you to visit and use the Library. Come in to sign up for a library card. Check out some of our great materials. The Library is a beautiful building architecturally both inside and out and is well worth a visit. Our staff members and volunteers are ready and willing to assist you. We hope to see you soon!

List of Directors

Myra L. Dickinson: 1909-1928
Ursula H. Brainerd: 1928-1942
Emily Gesner: 1942-1967
Helen Dondero: 1967- Sept. 1984
Victoria Harlow: Sept. 1984 – Nov. 1991
Ann Davis: Feb. 1992- July 1994
Ann Donahue: Sept. 1994- Dec. 1995
Susan Yannello (interim) Dec. 1995-Sept. 1996
Suzanne Risley: Oct. 1996-Sept. 2001
Krystyna Pilesczak: Nov. 2001 – Aug. 2002
Ann Penfield: Aug. 2002-July 2007
Cynthia Mulbach: July 2007-Oct. 2015
Tom Piezzo: March 2016 –