Letter in Support of Keeping 1913 Library

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New Canaan Library was built in 1913.

To the editor,

In response to Eileen Thomas’s letter of June 22, there are so many clarifications needed to be made that I can’t even begin to address them here.

All pertinent info—including a petition to support keeping the original 1913 Library building while building the new library—is available at the New Canaan Preservation Alliance website.

It is important to note that:

1) Those of us in support of our 1913 library are not against the new library build and we are not asking to delay it. We are asking for the 1913 Library to be put in the town’s MOU in order for us to develop a workable plan to reuse 1913 so that it is self-sustaining and useful for another 100 years, and

2) It’s hard to understand how a vote of this impact to the town and the taxpayers could even be considered without a) due diligence on the part of the town b) an operating plan and budget that illustrates the current and future costs associated with the construction (and any potential overruns) of the new library, and full transparency around the ongoing commitments from the town to support an operating budget that includes the additional overhead costs that go with a larger facility.

So, to Ms. Thomas, many of us in support of retaining and repurposing our 1913 library building are hoping to come together to work with the library to find a way forward. So far our outreach efforts to the library board over several months have been ignored.


Susan Serven

One thought on “Letter in Support of Keeping 1913 Library

  1. The claim by Ms. Serven that “outreach efforts have been ignored” is a lie. There has been no such effort. Not only has there been NO communication from the Preservation Alliance to the Library requesting a meeting or suggesting an agenda for discussion but in fact, I along with others, had communicated with people involved with the preservation effort including members of their board during 2019 and furthermore reached out on several occasions to Ms. Serven herself only to have my invitations rebuffed.
    Furthermore, a community minded, impartial interlocutor had arranged a meeting between a small group from the library with a small group from the Preservation Alliance that was unfortunately thwarted by the Covid-19 shutdown, however at my initiation planning for that meeting to happen soon, is underway.
    In addition, this project has been underway for more than 8 years and your suggestion that the Town officials have not engaged in their due diligence or that modeling of future costs has not been done and shared over all this time is false.
    For over a decade scores of New Canaanites who love their community have stepped up and given thousands of hours of their time serving on the Library Board of Trustees and other hard working committees as well as significant levels of philanthropy not only to keep the existing building going but planning for a new facility to serve our community. This incredible altruism is highly valued by the vast majority of New Canaanites, who understand and appreciate both the generosity and the dedication that goes into making our Library the community focused institution it is.
    Finally, the town council considered a proposal to include linking the original structure to the MOU and this proposal was defeated 10-2 in March of this year.

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