Letter: ‘We Can Have the New Library and the Original One’


Historic places connect us to our past, demonstrate our priorities and principles as well as reflect the values of a community.   

Libraries have  been an important part of American towns since 1833, when the first public library was founded. The New Canaan library is no different. The community has always felt strongly about its library as far back as 1877 when Albert Comstock and Jesse St. John left money in their estates to help build a permanent structure; this formed the cornerstone of the library we all know and love.   

That same passion and dedication is reflected today as the community debates the new library facility. Yes, we can all agree that the library is important and the proposed new structure reflects the changing times and focus of the community, but as we move forward what does it say about us as a community when we cannot honor the past and build upon the “old library” and use it going forward? Preservation is using the past to make a good future. Using the “best of a place” can only improve the quality of our community and honor the principles that guided those before us.  

We can continue to demonstrate and honor the tenets that knowledge, education and community are key principles which continue to bind us together today as they did in the past.

The 1913 portion of the library is a beautiful building, which has acted as an anchor in town, an important symbol which represents a dedication to learning and knowledge and by leaving it where it is, it will not impact the design of the current building but continue to serve the community which should be honoring it and repurposing this wonderful old structure.  

Many great pieces of architecture have integrated the old and the new – think of the Louvre with its glass pyramid, the Morgan Library with its glass addition. Do we throw away a book because it doesn’t fit the new shelves? No.We incorporate it, honor it and value it.

We can have the new library and the original one. They can live in harmony with the original library anchoring a second town green (God’s acre is New Canaan’s first). Let’s keep the old library and reuse it for what it is – an important piece of the fabric of our town which many before us have thoughtfully valued and honored despite the pressures of modernization.

Jennifer Holme

2 thoughts on “Letter: ‘We Can Have the New Library and the Original One’

  1. Jennifer is correct. Everyone is in too much of a hurry to get rid of the old. Why? It was the old that made today. Incorporate it.

  2. Jennifer, a thoughtful, well-researched article that expresses my core feelings about the “new” and “old” library.

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