History

History of New Haven's Libraries
(1813, 1871, 1901-2001, 2008-present day)

The following was excerpted from the book “New Haven in Vermont (1761-1983)” with the permission of the Town of New Haven. (Copyright 1984.)

“The public library is a relative latecomer among New England institutions, especially in rural areas, and this is true in New Haven as well as most small towns. The reason is not because rural people were uncultured illiterates but because books and reading were thought to be personal appetites left to private initiative.

A group of Town Hill families formed a private library in 1813 and the neighborhood endeavor continued for some 20 or 30 years. The Philomath Historical Society had a simple structure: annual dues (originally 25¢, raised in the 1820s to 50¢) and few officers (librarian, collector, and a committee of two responsible for new acquisitions). In 1827 the “Society agreed with Walt Squier to procure a decent cupboard for the purpose of containing the Library. 5 ½ feet high, 3 feet wide, 1 foot thick with 6 shelves, 2 doors – a slide one for one and lock and key for the other, with handles of leather and well painted for two dollars.” By 1830 the collection numbered some 200 books, most of them historical or biographical in content with some admixture of travel and adventure.

At New Haven Mills the kernel of a community library was created in 1871 with the volumes sent by Sir Curtis Lampson. Newspaper accounts describe gala opening and mention a schedule of public reading hours on Saturday afternoons, but enthusiasm seems to be short-lived. It is altogether likely that mill workers and farm families could find amusements more exciting than perusing the finely printed columns of London literary journals or savoring the rich perfume of Victorian prose.

Town meeting in 1896 decided against establishing a public library, but by 1901 the mood had changed (there was some enticement in modest support from the state). A thrifty citizenry voted $25 and elected the first board of 5 Library Trustees. Town support has never been lavish, partly because libraries in neighboring communities are so readily available. The library was first located in a downstairs room at the west end of the old Town Hall. Most of the books were saved when that building burnt in 1937, and for short time Mrs. Birchard Clark kept the library at her home. In the new town hall the library occupied a small room near the Town Clerk’s office, but in 1964 books were moved to a larger and more useful quarters in the school basement. Much of the library’s use has been connected with the elementary grades at school, but the range of potential services is practically unlimited through a cooperative network of facilities available through Vermont Department of Libraries. Too few townspeople avail themselves of the opportunities.”

100th Birthday of the New Haven Community Library (March 2001)

For the 100th Birthday of New Haven in 2001, the following was written by the Friends of the New Haven Community Library:

March of 2001 marks the 100th year of the New Haven Community Library! At the 1901 town meeting the public voted in favor of creating a library and elected the first board of the Library Trustees. Twenty-five dollars from the town and some modest support from the state formed that fist year’s budget. At first, the library was located in the west end of the old Town Hall in a downstairs room. When that building burnt in 1937, most of the books were saved and, for a short time, the library was located in Mrs. Birchard Clark’s home. (Mabel Lowell Clark). In the new town hall, the library was located in a small room near the Town Clerk’s Office, but in 1964 books were moved to a large more useful space in the school basement. Today the library’s use is connected with both the elementary grades at school and many adults in the community. Its range of programs covers all ages, from the weekly Children’s activities to the Armchair Traveler series. The library looks forward to a rich and varied future.

Happy 100th Birthday New Haven Community Library!”

In 2008, after the construction of New Haven’s Town Community Center, the New Haven Community moved in to its present location where it is co-located with the Town Offices. The new community building is built on the site of the former Dana-King House.

After many hours of weeding the collection and Friends and volunteers’ help to clean and paint bookshelves and add new furniture, on July 1, 2009 the first day’s work to move the collection out the lower level of Beeman Elementary School was taken on by Beeman students, led by Librarian Deborah Lundbech..

From the beginning of the building process, to help ensure the new space met the Library’s needs, our Librarian and the library board’s building committee worked together with Jerry Smiley, as building designer, and the Clerk of the Works, Lowell Nottingham, to implement the committee’s design ideas and layout for a bright, new library on the north side of the building.

The town’s library had previously been located in the basement rooms of Beeman Elementary School, and town officials had said they have long wanted a larger, airier space for it.

Librarians & Directors

From present day back to 1937*

Katie Male-Riordan, Director (May 2021 – present)


Former Directors:

Deborah Lundbech (?April 2021)


Former Librarians:

Deborah Lundbech (August 2004 - ?)

Stacey Trombley (2003 - May 2004)

Rachel Plant ( 1997 - 2003 )

Elaine Naylor (1996 - 1997)

Jane Moulton (1989 - 1996)

Nancy Custer Carroll (1987 - 2016)

Maureen Rogers? Dale Everest?

Jean Simmons (1980? - 1982)

1970’s – school librarians: Meredith Germaine, Candi Swain (Grennon), Suzanne Higbee

1964 (library was moved to school basement)

Late 1940s - 1950s – Marcia Winslow (her brother-in-law was George Holden)

1937 Mabel Lowell Clark (in her home, after the old Town Hall burned)

Unknown (1813 - 1937)


  • *If you can help fill in any missing names or some of the missing dates above, please contact Deborah!