NCM&HS Launches ‘Little Free Library’ for the Community


The Little Free Library outside the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society on Oenoke Ridge. Credit: Michael Dinan

There’s free books on Oenoke Ridge.

The Little Free Library outside the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society on Oenoke Ridge. Credit: Michael Dinan

This month, the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society set up a “Little Free Library” next to a bench out front of the 1825 Town House on campus at the top of God’s Acre.

“It’s a national organization where you buy the box and you fill it with your books,” NCM&HS Executive Director Nancy Geary told “And the idea is that people can come and take a book. They can either read it and return it, or they can take it and keep it.”

The organization launched its “library”—a red box on a post that resembles a bird feeder—thanks to the generosity of New Canaan’s Branch family. After her husband David passed away, Betty Branch looked for something to do with his “enormous library of incredible history books,” Geary said.

“But they’re not New Canaan history, it’s world history, biographies, and we don’t have the space to absorb that collection, and so I talked to Betty, and we decided that it was sort of in the spirit of his love of history and his love of reading to get his books out into the population.” 

Books available in the Little Free Library on Wednesday included: “D-Day” by Stephen E. Ambrose, “The Real McCoy” by David Strauss, “Our First Revolution” by Michael Barone, “Native New Yorkers” by Evan T. Pritchard, “Writers on World War II” edited by Mordecai Richler, “Rabble in Arms” by Kenneth Roberts and “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald.

There are “many more books” in the Branch collection “so it will be constantly refilled,” Geary said.

Asked what she’d say to people who didn’t know about the Little Free Library, Geary said, “I hope they’ll come and take a look. There’s not a problem about scarcity. I didn’t know David, but from what I hear of him, he was such a warmhearted person and such a lover of history. Betty has told me that he would be delighted that people are sharing in his passion.”

2 thoughts on “NCM&HS Launches ‘Little Free Library’ for the Community

  1. Thank you Betty Branch and Nancy Geary for implementing this wonderful program in New Canaan! What a clever idea for decreasing David Branch’s vast collection of history books.

    Like the Branch family, I’m sure there are many New Canaanites with collections of books. According to their website Little Free Library can be implemented anywhere there are benches.

    I envision this wonderful program expanding throughout our parks, for example, under the covered Kiwanis Beach pavilion so adults and children can enjoy reading books on the beach or located in the shade of the gazebo in the playground for young children to enjoy reading throughout the year when they take their snack and juice breaks.

    The New Canaan Nature Center may welcome a their own Little Free Library and accept donations of animal and nature books, etc.

    Perhaps our new New Canaan Library accept some books from David’s collection?


  2. What a fabulous and generous idea! Thank you, Betty Branch. When my granddaughter, an avid History book reader, visits next summer we shall sit on the bench and she will select her favorites. How wonderful that she can borrow or keep her choices! The bird house design is perfect!

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