Letter: Support New Canaan Library’s ‘Bustling and Vibrant’ Rebuilding Plans


As New Canaan residents for 25 years and local business owners we are proud to support a new, New Canaan Library. This exciting project will transform our library into a modern, LEED certified, 48,000-square-foot learning and community center right in the heart of town. The building design is a culmination of many years of careful planning and community input and will answer the growing demand for varied and innovative programming and learning opportunities that the old, failing building cannot support.

In the modern digital world, libraries have changed or need to change to remain the center of community learning.

Libraries are no longer simply a collection of books, but centers for learning supported by educational and cultural programming and the facilities to showcase the programming. They must also have STEAM learning resources and support the visual and performing arts. The plan for the new New Canaan library takes all of this into account and in addition, features an expanded children’s area, a dedicated teen space, community living room, a 300-seat auditorium, demonstration kitchen, eco-friendly rooftop garden, covered parking, town green, a business center and of course, a robust collection of books. It’s easy to envision, given the totality of the facility, that the New Canaan library will quickly become the place to be for collaborative learning and frequent social interaction.

We are excited about this project for so many reasons, but would like to highlight what a draw this new library will be for the town residents and business owners. From a business owner’s perspective, we are thrilled to see this center of learning modernize and rejuvenate New Canaan. A bustling and vibrant library will draw new life, commerce and foot traffic and generate a positive buzz that will not only attract new people to New Canaan, but give empty nesters a compelling reason to stay. Being steps away from downtown, people of all ages, residents and non-residents alike, will come to enjoy the Library. Imagine if the 90% of residents who possess a library card and the 37,000 people who visited the library last year all stayed to shop and eat locally? We feel confident that there will be measurable effects for our local businesses and underground parking will eliminate any potential parking issues. Outside, a new town green will create a wonderful and much needed flexible, outdoor space for both town gatherings or quiet reflection. We look forward to August 2022 to see all this become reality.

Challenging times in Connecticut call for listening, collaboration and innovative thinking to bring about meaningful change. The dynamic team at the New Canaan Library, led by Lisa Oldham and Ellen Crovatto has done an amazing job of doing just that. To date, their quiet campaign has raised $15 million in private funding and it now needs wider town support. We call on Kevin Moynihan, the Town Council, Board of Finance and all New Canaan residents to join us in supporting the library’s project. We will be the last town in Fairfield County to modernize our library, but we will be a shining example to all those who follow.

Laura & John Barker

2 thoughts on “Letter: Support New Canaan Library’s ‘Bustling and Vibrant’ Rebuilding Plans

  1. Wonderfully said Laura & John.
    As a daily recipient of the library I look forward the modernizing. I also hope the original appearance will remain the same.
    Norm Jensen…

  2. The New Canaan Library is being used by so many different people in so many different ways! In the daytime one can look into the children’s section and see children of a wide variety of ages reading a variety of age-appropriate books — in groups of children, with a parent, or by himself or herself. At exam periods one can see students working at tables one-on-one with tutors. Where else can they be appropriately chaperoned when the student’s parent or parents are occupied elsewhere than at home? Where else locally can they be appropriately chaperoned when they are meeting with college admissions committeepersons? What does it tell us that groups requesting meeting rooms have to be turned down because they’re all already booked? Where else can residents who are frustrated by the non-intuitive operation of their computers get one-on-one technical support? Who else sponsors some of the many lectures and activities that the Library does every week? Where else can one borrow less popular books from other community libraries and college libraries throughout the state? Where else can our students get books beyond the school libraries for research papers? How else can readers obtain the use at of e-books at home from databases subscribed to by our Library or access the e-editions of important national and state newspapers and magazines? The idea that libraries have been displaced by television and social media is simply not reflected in the realities of modern-day life in New Canaan.

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