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History of The Library

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Historic images of the library circa 1910-1915. Images from the Frank DeMars collection.

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Elliott Beardsley

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Jennison Whiting

The Beardsley & Memorial Library has been part of the Winsted landscape since the nineteenth century.  Because of a gift of $10,000 from Mrs. Delia Rockwell Beardsley, residents were able to borrow from a small collection of books and read newspapers and magazines in a single room in the Beardsley Block on Main Street.

A bequest made by Jennison Whiting in 1898 made it possible to purchase land and erect a library building on the current site of the library.  The original structure of the library building was completed by 1899 and it became a free public library for the community, one of the first libraries to do so.

The Beardsley Library and the Memorial Library operated under two separate Boards of Trustees for several years.

In 1939, by a Special Act of the General Assembly of Connecticut, the two boards consolidated and created the institution known today as the Beardsley & Memorial Library.

After the consolidation, services expanded significantly with the addition of a Children’s Library and the Genealogy Library, as well as a growing collection of materials for all library patrons.  Barkhamsted and Colebrook designated Beardsley & Memorial Library as their library of record, extending the library’s service to patrons in a large area of northwest Connecticut.

The library was able to expand its services again with an addition to the building in 1985.  In 2003 another expansion was completed, converting the basement area into space for book collections, offices and a much needed community room for programs.  The most recent building improvement took place with the renovation of the circulation area on the main floor and the main reading room, dedicated in memory of Trustee and Board President Brian O’Neil.

The library is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees, representing Winchester, Colebrook and Barkhamsted. The Board and the library staff are proud of the services it offers to patrons and gratefully acknowledge the support of the Friends of the Library and the generous donations of patrons to help the library grow and improve.

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