The mission of the East Hampton Public Library is to provide equal access to information and ideas, promote a love of reading and offer a wide range of community based educational and cultural programs.
We accomplish this mission through a wide and diverse collection of books, media and downloadable content, programs and events for all ages and outreach and partnership with other East Hampton and community organizations.
On August 18, 1898, the Chatham Public Library opened with a 1000 book collection organized and cataloged without charge by first Librarian Emma Sage Cone. Stanley A. Bevin borrowed the first book and by mid-September over 100 books circulated on a single day. By 1922, the Library contained nearly 8,000 volumes and had registered over 700 patrons. Today, the original Chatham Public Library building, renamed the East Hampton Public Library in 1915, stands at 62 Main Street.
As early as 1902 the Library Board of Directors observed that their current facility would soon become inadequate. A building fund was started and though a small addition was added in 1933, three years later Carl Price wrote ‘the stacks are so close to each other that one needs a periscope, up and down, to read the book titles other than those in the middle shelves.’
In 1950, the Board of Library Directors voted to purchase the 81 Main Street building, formerly occupied by the Connecticut Light and Power Company. On December 4, 1953, the East Hampton Public Library reopened in new quarters with a provision to add a second floor children’s room at a later date. The plan was fully implemented on June 17, 1962 when the children’s room opened, led by an appointed Children’s Librarian.
By the late 1960’s the library had expanded its role as a center of community activity. Circulation was approaching 50,000 per year and the library owned 12,000 volumes.
An effort to build a new library began in 1978 when the Board of Selectman charged the a committee to prepare ‘necessary preliminary plans and documents to build and ultimately construct a facility for the town’ which would include a library, senior center, day care facility and community room.
On October 17, 1983 town residents approved by referendum a 2.28 million dollar Library/Multi-Purpose Center. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on November 17, 1984 and construction was completed by late spring of 1986.
On June 23, 1986 the new East Hampton Public Library at 105 Main Street officially opened amid much fanfare. The new building, which was the culmination of eight years of hard work and dedication, was designed by the architectural firm of Moore, Grover and Harper, later know as Centerbrook Architects of Essex, and was built by Naek Construction of Vernon.
Many years later, the East Hampton Community Center stands as a constant reminder of our community’s historical depth and heart. The Center’s architecture– a bell tower, the library’s railroad station-like interior, the coexistence of the 19th century industrial and 20th century modern lines — echoes our town’s heritage and likewise, our community’s consistent civic belief in a most public institution: the public library.
Today, the library holds over 65,000 physical volumes and as many electronic resources. Each year, we circulate over 70,000 items and host over 400 events, workshops and classes for our community.