Derby Public Library 120th Anniversary Proclamation

Derby Public Library was honored to have Mayor Richard Dziekan proclaim December 27, 2022 to be
“Harcourt Wood Memorial Library/Derby Public Library 120th Anniversary Day.”

On December 27th 1902, Derby Public Library was officially presented to the City of Derby and dedicated by Colonel H. Holton and Alice Wood in memory of their son, Harcourt, who died in February 1897 at the age of eleven.  The original charter also cites the alternative name of the library as the “Harcourt Wood Memorial Library.” A memorial plaque in Harcourt’s memory is displayed at the front entrance and flowers are placed throughout the Library on Harcourt’s birthday. The Woods donated the triangular-shaped piece of land at the corner of Elizabeth and Caroline Streets, as well as the Library building and $5,000 for books, provided that the city would match those funds and promise to upkeep the Library.

The architect of the Library building, Hartley Dennett, focused his design on a lasting interior as well as external beauty, which is evident in the Colonial Revival style, Flemish gables, and Ansonia granite ashlar walls. The original 7,500 square foot building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Library was officially “opened to the public on a Thursday evening, February 12th, 1903.” It was noted that the citizens of Derby “by their use of the library, have demonstrated beyond question the need of such a library and its public usefulness…Unlike most such libraries, it has been our good fortune to be able to start with a completely equipped building and with an unusually large supply of books.” This auspicious start is a true testament to the work and dedication of the first Head Librarian, Grace A. Child, who was paid $900 per year to run the Library, and to the original Library Board of Directors.

120 years later, under the leadership of current Library Director, Scott Brill, the Library Board of Directors and the dedicated and friendly staff, Derby Public Library continues to serve the community by providing free access to books, DVDs, computers, do-it-yourself projects, newspapers, magazines, e-resources and online databases along with free programs and events, as well as offering services like printing, faxing and copying (for a nominal fee). Derby Public Library also offers free Wi-Fi and plenty of comfortable and safe places to study or read.

In addition, you can see the 120th Anniversary Proclamation for yourself at the Library, where it is proudly on display in our magnificent Cohen Lobby.

Derby Public Library is located at 313 Elizabeth Street, Hours: M-W, 9 AM – 8 PM, Thursdays, 9 AM – 6 PM, Fridays, 9 AM – 5 PM and Saturdays, 9 AM – 2 PM. For details about programs, services and collections as well as access to e-books and other online resources, please visit the rest of our website, email us at, call us at (203) 736-1482 or ask one of our helpful staff members.