One Public Library Plaza     Stamford CT 06904     203 964-1000

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Library History

Since it first opened its doors at the end of the 19th century, The Ferguson Library has been the heart of the Stamford community, a place of learning and education, a gathering place where people could meet and exchange ideas. Sometimes even a place to come in out of the  cold for a while. As Stamford grew and changed, The Ferguson Library grew along with it. In 1911, The Ferguson became a free public library, embracing the concept that knowledge should be available to all, regardless of ability to pay.

The Ferguson now serves nearly a million visitors each year, and countless others access our online services. But our core values haven’t changed. The commitment to supporting lifelong learning, and providing free and equal access to information is still at the heart of our mission.

 

1877

John Day FergusonJohn Day Ferguson leaves a bequest of $10,000 to aid in the establishment of a public library on the condition that fellow
citizens donate $25,000.

1880

The state legislature grants the charter incorporating the Library.

1882

Dr. PayneThe Library opens in Dr. Payne’s building on Atlantic Street. Andrew W. Paradise is the first librarian. He is authorized to
employ an assistant, whose salary is to be paid from his own pocket.
Printed, bound lists of books are used as the equivalent of today's electronic library catalog. Borrowers pay an annual fee of $2 for the use of the  Library, which is later reduced to $1.

1889

Atlantic StreetThe Ferguson Library moves to the Geib property on Atlantic Street.

1909

Bedford and Broad StreetThe Library moves to its present location at Bedford and Broad streets.

1911

The Ferguson Library becomes a free public library.

1930

Main LibraryMain Library expanded.

1940

Bookmobile Bookmobile service begins.

1954

Weed Memorial & Hollander BranchWeed Memorial Branch opens in Springdale.

1967

River BranchTurn of River Branch opens in North Stamford.

1970

South End BranchSouth End Branch opens in the South End Community Center.

1972 to 1975

Cataloging and circulation systems computerized. Literacy Volunteers begin. Dial-A-Book services begin.

1979

Friends of FergusonExpansion and renovation of Main Library begins.
Friends of Ferguson incorporated.

1982

Second Main LibrarySecond Main Library expansion completed.

1985

Card catalog closes.

1987

FoundationFerguson Library Foundation incorporated.

1988

Library begins circulating videocassettes.

 

1995

Ferguson becomes first public library in Connecticut to provide public Internet access.
Library creates its first webpage.

1997

Purple BusPurple Bus service begins.
South End Branch reopens after renovation.

1999

Passport OfficeLibrary begins circulating DVDs.
Passport Office opens at Main Library.

Starbucks opens at Main Library.

2000

Harry Bennett BranchHarry Bennett Branch opens.
New Bookmobile.
Library begins circulating ebooks.

2004

Library introduces WifiLibrary introduces Wifi. Online homework help.

2006

Weed Memorial & Hollander BranchWeed Memorial & Hollander Branch reopens after renovation.
Online live reference help.

2007

Library celebrates 125th anniversary.

2008

Main Library renovation begins.

2010

South End Branch celebrates 40th anniversary
Harry Bennett Branch celebrates 10th anniversary
Main Library renovation completed.


 

Excerpts from The Ferguson Library’s Original Collection, recorded 1896

Pride and Prejudice
Mansfield Park
Man with the Broken Ear
Honorable Surrender
Days of Bruce
Home Influence
Mother’s Recompense
Little Women
Little Men
Vale of Cedars
Woman’s Friendship
Stillwater Tragedy
Which Shall it Be?
Household Stories
Ben Hur
Lost in the Jungle
Strange Stories from History for Young People
Story of Ida
Weighed and Wanting
Cape Cod Folks
Doubting Heart
Tales from French History
Two College Girls
English at the North Pole
War-Time Wooing

Biography of John Day Ferguson

John Day Ferguson was born in New York City in 1832 and moved with his family to Stamford when he was ten years old. He graduated from Trinity College in 1851, and after studying law privately, began a legal practice in New York City. He eventually came back to Connecticut, and in 1866 was elected to represent Stamford in the state legislature. Ferguson later served three years as a probate judge.

John Day Ferguson was passionate about education, and helped establish and promote the Stamford Public School system. Mr. Ferguson died in 1877 at age 45. In his will, he left a bequest of $10,000 to open a public library in Stamford, an institution he considered vital to public education. Ferguson’s $10,000 bequest was contingent on the citizens of Stamford donating another $25,000. On January 29, 1880, the new library was named The Ferguson Library in honor of its farsighted benefactor, John Day Ferguson.