The opening of the Fairfield Memorial Library, forerunner of the public library, was held on December 27, 1876 at the library quarters in the Fairfield Academy building. A borrower was permitted to take one book at a time during library hours: Wednesday and Saturday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The library owned 677 volumes.
On June 4, 1903, a new library building, situated on the corner of the Post Road and Old Post Road, was dedicated. This two-story colonial was designed so that it could be added to in future years. In 1950 the Library became a town department and the name changed to the Fairfield Public Library. Additions to the building were completed in 1930, 1959, 1981 and 2005, proving the farsightedness of our founders.
Demand for an additional Library location was clear after Stratfield residents established libraries in the Stratfield School and the Stratfield Firehouse starting in the mid-30’s. In 1956, the Library opened a branch at one end of Andrew Warde High School’s library, and then, in 1969, the Fairfield Woods Branch Library was opened. The Fairfield Woods Branch Library continues to be a dynamic neighborhood library, the busiest branch libraries in the state.
Today, the Library owns over 276,000 volumes and over 41,000 non-print items for lending. Between the two locations, the Library is available to patrons 69 hours per week. In addition, 24/7 access from our website to downloadable books, magazines and music; 30 premium databases; and the online catalog allow residents to use Library services whenever they want where ever they may be.
The Fairfield Public Library of the 21st century is well-situated to respond to the evolving needs of our residents. Over the past five years we have extended our services to support job seekers, potential business owners, Medicare enrollees and those seeking help with new health care changes. We have also served as a vital destination for residents during the extreme weather events of recent years.
Our 19th century founders put the Library in the heart of downtown Fairfield, where it continues to respond, along with the Fairfield Woods Branch, to the pulse of our community. The Library provides quality resources, programs and services for all ages as we continue to make history together.
Memorial Room at Main Library
In 1928, Oliver G. Jennings, President of the Fairfield Memorial Library, commissioned Norman M. Isham of the Rhode Island School of Design to create a special room in the Library celebrating the contributions of the town’s earliest settlers and citizens to American history. As part of the project, the large meeting room on the 2nd floor of the Library, measuring approximately 28X37 feet, was paneled in wood up to its arched ceiling.
Artist Sydney R. Burleigh of Rhode Island was chosen by Mr. Isham to execute 21 commemorative panels in the new Memorial Room. The two largest panels on the north and south walls are old style maps of early Fairfield. The map on the north wall above the fireplace measures about 4 x 8 feet and shows the town of Fairfield at its founding in 1639. Fairfield’s original boundaries incorporated what is now Easton, Weston, Redding, Westport, and part of Bridgeport. Along the sides of the map are the coats of arms of Roger Ludlow, who purchased Fairfield from the Paugussett Indians, and those of the earliest settlers.
The panel on the south wall measures about 4 x 10 feet. It illustrates the “Compact Part of the Town of Fairfield,” also known as the “four squares.” The original center of Fairfield is the present site of the Town Hall Green. The map depicts the old town with its gateways, houses and gardens as it appeared 13 years after its settlement in 1652.
Two smaller map panels in the Memorial Room recall Fairfield’s participation in the French and Indian Wars. On the east wall, a map commemorates the capture of the French fortress of Louisburg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia by New England troops in 1745. On the west wall, another map shows the capture of the city of Quebec by the English in 1759.
The remaining panels bear the names of Fairfield residents, lettered in gold, who figured in the town’s military and civil history. They include officers who served in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, as well as those who died in the Civil War and the first World War. The names of Fairfield’s earliest judges, the planters from Concord, deputies to the General Court, sheriffs, colonial Lieutenant Governors, physicians, the Ministers of the Prime Ancient Society (now the First Church Congregational), and the Rectors of Trinity Church are also displayed.
The Memorial Room can be viewed by appointment. Please email MainRooms@fplct.org to schedule your visit.