VIDEO: New Canaan Library Unveils Dramatic Rebuilding Plans

New Canaan Library on Tuesday unveiled plans for a rebuilt facility that makes dramatically different use of the organization’s gateway block to the downtown and features a glass-and-stone exterior, 300-seat auditorium, rooftop terrace, café, public concourse, fireplace, two large conference rooms and “town green” at the corner of Main and Cherry Streets. Appearing before the Board of Finance ahead of making a formal request for a $10 million town contribution toward the overall $30 million project, library officials described the planned new building as a state-of-the-art facility that opens possibilities in events, programming and gathering for the library and the wider community.  

Library Director Lisa Oldham noted that the real estate and business communities already have voiced support for the project, and that the rebuilt facility is expected to be an asset for New Canaan that draws homebuyers and encourages residents to stay here. She shared projections from a draft economic impact study that the library commissioned the Connecticut Economic Research Council showing “that the library will drive significant new dollars to the local economy, up to $6 million a year in new consumer spending.”

“The town’s critical capital allocation for the library should be viewed as an investment with a clear and quantifiable return in the form of real economic gains that will stimulate our local economy,” Oldham said during the Board’s regular meeting at Town Hall, attended by a standing room-only crowd. 

The library itself has already raised about $15 million toward the project and plans call for a spring 2021 groundbreaking followed by 18 to 24 months of construction. The current building would operate while the new one is built. 

The new 48,000-square-foot building would replace an aging facility with a failing, costly physical plant that hasn’t had a significant renovation in four decades, Oldham said. 

During their presentation to the Board, Oldham and the library’s director of development and marketing, Ellen Crovatto, played a short film that featured 3D renderings of the planned new library’s interior and exterior (see above—it drew loud applause from the room), reviewed the need for a new facility and efforts to solicit input from locals, spotlighted the library’s high community engagement and broke down to-date fundraising successes for the project (including 55-plus gifts of $100,000 or more). 

Board members complimented Oldham and Crovatto on their presentation and plans, which Michael Chen called “mind-blowing.”

“I really think this is a game-changer for the town of New Canaan,” Chen said.

New Canaan Connection Brings ‘Red Notice’ Author Bill Browder To Library Talk

Town resident Ellen Crovatto, prior to joining New Canaan Library as its development director, spent a career in investment banking. She worked 12 years on Wall Street and the last part of her career was spent raising private equity capital for investing in the former Soviet Union. “My role was to invest and raise half a billion dollars for the very first early stage investment in Russia in vouchers,” Crovatto recalled on a recent morning. And in that role, she crossed paths—at conferences, for example—with Bill Browder, the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management who would go on to publish the nonfiction bestseller “Red Notice,” subtitled “A true story of high finance, murder, and one man’s fight for justice.”

An absorbing book that is, as the back cover says, part “financial caper,” as well as “crime thriller” and “political crusade,” “Red Notice” tells the story of Browder’s intrepid and freewheeling professional entry into post-Soviet Russia, launch of Hermitage and subsequent clashes with corrupt Russian government officials and oligarchs, punctuated by the death of his own attorney, Sergei Magnitsky (whom Browder calls “the bravest man I have ever known” in a photo caption). Next month, thanks to Crovatto’s connection to him, Browder will come to New Canaan for a special library-organized event.

Letter: ‘Thank You’ from New Canaan Library following Successful ‘Books, Blues and BBQ’

Dear Editor:

A big ‘Thank you’ to all our sponsors, volunteers and guests of this year’s Books, Blues and BBQ event. Last Friday evening, 300 people enjoyed dancing under our tents to the incredible music of Tangled Vine while sipping craft margaritas, courtesy of Don Julio and Diageo. We were so grateful for the generosity of Half Moon Brewery whose seasonal ales were a big hit with the crowd, and made a wonderful complement to our Dinosaur Barbeque buffet. Every day the Library strives to connect us to ideas and opportunities for learning in our community – fundraising events like this one help support the many programs and services that keep those links vital. Thank you to all our talented Trustees and tireless committee volunteers who made this night a success: Holly Parmelee, Maya Frey, Kate Burt, Alicia Wyckoff, Kajsa Sheibley, Jen Gallagher, Jen Joyce, Krista Cody, Sheri West, Krista Kenin, Susan Graetz, Leslie Bisesi, Polly Goodyear, Meredith Petitjean, Susanna Anderson, Jenny D’Alba, Marnie Augustine, Shannon Broder, Kim Quinn, Annie Drapkin, Amedee Maggard, Carolyn Williams and many others.

New Canaan Library to Host Pulitzer Prize Winner Anthony Doerr at 8th Annual Literary Luncheon

New Canaan Library officials announced Tuesday that the writer to be honored at this fall’s literary luncheon is none other than Anthony Doerr, who this week was named Pulitzer Prize winner for his massively popular novel “All the Light We Cannot See.”

The 8th Annual Literary Luncheon will be held Nov. 4 at Woodway Country Club. The library’s director of development, Ellen Crovatto, said she’s “thrilled” for Doerr on the award and “very pleased that he will be our guest” at the luncheon. “It’s a tremendous honor and privilege that the library gets to present him in the community,” she said. “This will be his only area appearance in the fall.”

As in years past, the library will hold a ‘benefactor’ presale with additional tickets made available in the fall.

VIDEO: New Canaan Library’s ‘Books, Blues & BBQ’ Draws Hundreds

New Canaan Library’s Books, Blues & BBQ, May 30, 2014
More than 300 supporters of New Canaan Library donned their best checkered button-downs, boots and jeans for the organization’s third annual “Books, Blues & BBQ” fundraiser. Dancing to some great music from the band Tangled Vine, party-goers fed on Dinosaur BBQ and mingled beneath massive canopy tents in what Ellen Crovatto, director of development at the library (and a very good sport—see end of video above) called a “record-breaking” event in terms of attendance. “Fortunately the skies were kind and it didn’t rain for too long,” Crovatto told midway through Books, Blues & BBQ. “We’ve had tremendous community support and across an entirely wide range of demographics.”

Asked what makes the event so popular, Crovatto said: “I think it’s a casual event that unites people around the concept of supporting the library, its programs and collections. And it’s almost a community celebration in terms of what the library offers in its cultural offerings.”