History


Norwalk's first library was a subscription organization founded in 1866 by local citizens and returned Civil War soldiers who felt the village warranted intellectual improvement. This was called the Young Men's Library and Reading Room Association, and it still exists -- although it has not had a connection with the public library for many years. The first library and reading room was located on the second floor of a building at 14 W. Main St. and the first librarian was Miss Sophia Rowland. Miss Rowland served as the town librarian until the move to the present site in 1899, where the library and Firelands Historical Society museum were housed in the Dr. Kittredge house, until the present building was completed. [Excerpt from Henry Timman, Norwalk Reflector, June 2004]
On May 10, 1905 Norwalk's first free public library opened its doors. In 1899, the house at the Library's present location was purchased by the Firelands Historical Society and the Young Men's Library and Reading Room Association. The Association had operated a subscription library for 35 years and both organizations were searching for new locations.
In 1901, B.F. Stewart convinced Andrew Carnegie to give $15,000 toward the construction of a new building and with $10,000 from the above organizations as well as Whittlesey Academy of Arts and Sciences, the original building became a reality. At first it housed the library, a meeting room, and a museum.
Over the years changes occurred. In 1963, the Children's Room moved to the basement after the Historical Society moved to Case Street. In 1983, twelve hundred square feet were added and the interior was completely remodeled. Looking toward future expansion, the Board of Trustee's purchased the adjoining building, Hill's Interior's, in 2003. [From Jeanette Freeman, Former Board of Trustees President]
The library is handicapped accessible with reserved parking on Main Street in front of the building. The handicapped entrance, to the right of the front stairs, allows easy access to the elevator.