11 Best Libraries in Connecticut

Toddlers, teens, and adults have such a wide array of different interests and needs, yet a good library can cater to any and all things. The public libraries of Connecticut provide such amazing services, including new citizen services, language classes, story time, tax help, and college readiness, and the university libraries hold prized research materials used to broaden our knowledge of the world. Grab your library card and take advantage of the excellent activities and resources offered by Connecticut’s libraries.

1. Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, New Haven, CT

Located at Yale University, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is perhaps one of the most well-known in the state. Its rare book collection has intricately designed Jewish marriage contracts, a collection from Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keefe, and even manuscripts dating from the 13th century. The manuscripts, books, and documents housed here are used by scholars both at Yale and worldwide to further research on numerous topics.

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2. Otis Library, Norwich, CT

In 2016, Otis Library was honored by President Obama at the White House for receiving a National Medal for Museum and Library Service. This alone suggests that Otis Library provides excellent service to the community in addition to the routine services of book, e-book, and movie rentals. Otis Library really focuses on the international community that makes up Norwich by offering U.S. citizenship classes and resources, English literacy courses, services in different languages, and celebrations of international holidays/festivals. There are also numerous children’s programs.

3. Mystic & Noank Library, Mystic, CT

The Mystic & Noank Library is a cozy library that offers numerous talks, book clubs, and workshops for the community to partake in. If you feel like reading or catching up on work, the second floor of the library has comfortable chairs and tables as well as free Wi-Fi, and there is even an adopted library cat that roams freely through the building. For children, they offer several story times throughout the week for infants and toddlers.

4. Sterling Memorial Library, New Haven, CT

Another of Yale University’s libraries must make this list: Sterling Memorial Library is the largest library at Yale and opened in 1930. This large library houses four million books and impresses visitors with its cloisters, chapels, arched ceilings, and study spaces that look straight out of Harry Potter. It also houses a collection of Benjamin Franklin’s writings.

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5. Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, CT

Scoville Memorial Library is the oldest publicly-funded library in the U.S., as it obtained money from town citizens to bring 200 books from England to the U.S. in 1771. The library continued receiving books throughout the years and a library was built in the 1890s to house the growing collection of books. Currently, the library is being honored for its interior design, boasting bright reading rooms, arched ceilings, and colorful spaces for children. They offer numerous events throughout the year, including meditation, art workshops, and story time.

6. Darien Library, Darien, CT

The Darien Library is a favorite of local children for its kid-focused offerings. It has story time, hands-on science activities, music workshops, and even a LEGO building club. Teens are also welcome at the Darien Library with a section just for them, video game times, and Friday night movie nights. The Darien Library also offers Museum Passes, which can be checked out to give discounted or free admission to area museums and parks, even for some museums in the nearby New York City.

7. Hartford Public Library, Hartford, CT

Hartford Public Library offers the community so many excellent resources. More than just books, e-books, audio books, and films, Hartford Public Library benefits the public with its Spanish classes, free tax consultations for Veterans, and training programs for professional jobs. English as a second language and adult literacy courses are also a focus at this library. Simply check their events calendar and any age will be spoiled for choice for free educational activities.

8. Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT

The Blackstone Memorial Library is located in a stunning building that was commissioned in the early 1890s as a memorial to a beloved father, James Blackstone. The helpful staff will help you find whatever you’re looking for whether online or in person. The library offers free Wi-Fi, movies, books, magazines, and even academic journal subscriptions and databases online. If you are a true book lover or are looking for some book recommendations, they offer relaxing fireside chats with tea to discuss favorites from the year. 

9. Shain Library, New London, CT

Though located at Connecticut College, anyone can visit the campus and the collections at Shain Library. This vast library was recently renovated to better serve Conn College students and the broader community. The comfortable seating areas or private study rooms are convenient places to catch up on work or meet a deadline. Librarians are also available for research consultation if you have a specific topic on which you are focused.

10. Guilford Free Library, Guilford, CT

Teens will find an educational and fun place to learn at the Guilford Free Library, which offers an array of free services such as homework help, college readiness, Minecraft club, and more. The college readiness service is particularly excellent as it offers SAT and ACT practice exams, information about freshman year, selecting the right college, and numerous other resources. There are also ample activities for children and adults. Adults seeing to research their ancestry will even find that the library holds a subscription to Ancestry.com, if you’d like to learn more about your heritage.

11. Westport Library, Westport, CT

The Westport Library is an impressive space with an atmosphere optimal for fostering creativity. Open since 1886, not only can you check out your favorite book, you can also participate in computer classes, book discussions, access meeting rooms, utilize their computers and research database, and visit their on-site café for a cup of coffee. The Library Journal has consistently awarded the Westport Library five stars, an accolade only one percent of public libraries have earned across the nation.  

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