About UsStaff | Location | Mission Statement | How We Operate | Patron Services | Events | History | Tour
Piano recital by Shepaug senior Melanie Carreira. Photo by Charles Heyman.
StaffLibrary & Museum:
- Jean Chapin, Executive Director
- Mary Boland, Support Services
- Wendy Rhodes, Development Coordinator
- Joan Hammond, Bookkeeper
- Martie Smolka, Adult & Children's Services
- Gail Scribner, Adult & Children's Services
- Linda Morse, Children's Services
- Margaret Ferguson, Program Coordinator
- Bianca Getzel, Page
- Hannah Redstone, Page
- Louise Van Tartwijk, Museum Director
- Stephen Bartkus, Curator
LocationThe Gunn Memorial Library and Museum are located at the corner of Route 47 and Wykeham Road, just off Washington Green. See map and directions.
Mission StatementThe Gunn Memorial Library, Inc. is a non-profit corporation providing free public library services to Washington, Connecticut and the surrounding communities. It is dedicated to the promotion of literacy, education, and preservation of the Town's history and culture, via the Gunn Historical Museum.
How We OperateThe GML&M is run by a paid staff, with help from loyal volunteers. Its operations, fundraising and budget are overseen by a volunteer board of trustees. Operating income comes from individual donations, fundraising events, endowment interest income, and a town contribution. As with any non-profit organization, it seems we never have enough money to do everything we'd like: buy more books and tapes; buy more computers, software and CDs; pay the overworked staff better; clean the carpets, replace the roof or buy more chairs for our ever-increasing patrons.
Patron ServicesUser Statistics from 2013:
- 47,877 people visited the Library, averaging over 900 per week nearly twice the per capita rate of libraries statewide.
- Visitors to the Museum, related programs and activities totaled 6,995. The Museum sponsored 28 programs including outreach to seniors and schools.
- The Junior Library held 124 programs and 242 children participated the in the summer reading program.
- The Library sponsored a total of 54 programs for adults, a 23% increase.
- The Library hosted numerous special meetings for community groups.
- Over 1,000 people registered to use our computers in the Adult Library, in addition to those who accessed the Wi-Fi with their own equipment.
- More than 50 volunteers regularly support the Library and Museum.
EventsThe library hosts a number of annual events, many of which are key fund-raisers. In addition, book discussions, special lectures, weekly storytimes and arts and crafts workshops are held throughout the year. Check out What's Up for information.
- The Washington Connecticut Antiques & Design Show will be held on October 9, 10 & 11, with a Preview Night party on Friday evening, October 9. Outstanding dealers will exhibit antiques and collectibles at the Washington Primary School in Washington Depot, CT.
- Our "Book Basement" is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Please call 860-868-7586 to confirm hours before you visit.
- Our 20th annual Library Luminaries fundraising event will be held on June 6th, 2015. Dinner parties will be hosted by generous and interesting area residents in their homes, each highlighting a notable "luminary" guest. A cocktail party at the Library begins the evening.
- The popular Festival of Trees takes place the first Friday in December, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
- The Children's Holiday Sale is a popular Junior Library event which takes place the second week of December. This sale gives children an opportunity to purchase holiday gifts for family members at very reasonable prices.
We need your donations of small gift items, accessories, housewares or unused toiletries to make this a success. A great way to put aside items for the sale is to designate a box (in the attic or basement) and deposit those little gifts or items you receive throughout the year that you know you won't really use. For instance, you might set aside a box of soaps, a necktie that's out of favor, candles, a knickknack with no knack for your taste, a scarf that missed the mark, a redundant kitchen gadget you get the idea. Then just bring them to the Junior Library. Thank you!
Our History at a Glance
1852 Washington Library Association is formed by 22 men; books are circulated via auction. 1855 Frederick W. Gunn elected president of the association. 1881 Gunn dies. 1887 Evolves into the Washington Reading Room & Circulating Library Association. 1891 Reading Room opens to the public. 1899 The Judea Historical Room is opened by the local DAR chapter in a nearby house. 1902 E.H. Van Ingen pledges land and money toward building a permanent library. 1907 DAR votes to turn over collection to library, to be housed in the basement of the new library building. 1908 Gunn Memorial Library is opened and dedicated. 1965 June S. Willis bequeaths her house (built in 1781) to the library; museum collections move next door. 1967 Dorothy Richards sees to it that a Junior Library is opened in the vacated basement space of the library. 1990 Overcrowding becomes critical; Capital Campaign starts, geared to raise $2.5 million to greatly expand the library, renovate the museum, and increase the endowment. 1994 New 7,500 square foot addition to the library and museum renovation complete. 1998 Library becomes fully automated, with the addition of networked computers, membership in Bibliomation and computerized collection entries available online. 1999 Museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of its collection by the Judea Chapter of the DAR. 2001 The Library is awarded the Excellence in Public Library Service Award by the Connecticut Library Association and the Connecticut State Library, for the category of public libraries serving towns with a population of less than 25,000. 2002 Centennial of the incorporation of the Library. 2008 GML celebrates centennial of the opening of the Ehrick Rossiter-designed library.
Library TourWe have a lovely building, originally built in 1908 and expanded in 1994.
- Upper Level: Wykeham Room, Connecticut Room, Stairwell Gallery
- Main Level: Adult Library & Staff Offices
- Lower Level: Junior Library
Upper Level (see upper floor diagram)
This level comprises the original main rooms of the 1908 library. It is rich with architectural detail typical of public buildings built at the turn of the last century. Quarter-sawn oak paneling, pilasters and dentil moldings define the rooms. An exquisite gilt-accented ceiling mural by H. Siddons Mowbray lights up the old lobby; a carved stone memorial chimney breast graces the reading room and a memorial stained glass window, recently restored, now gives view to the atrium and circulation desk below.
Wykeham RoomThanks to major seed money given to the library when Wykeham Rise School closed, our Capital Campaign in the early 1990s got off to a strong start. The school's trustees felt that the library would be an ideal place for alumnae of the school to visit in Washington. And so, this area displays a variety of photographs of students and their activities at Wykeham Rise throughout the years.
Lectures, slide shows, and discussions that are co-sponsored by the library or museum take place in the meeting room. More intimate book discussions are usually held in the adjacent reading room.
The most prominent feature of the Wykeham Rooms and the crowning glory of this library is the beautiful Mowbray Mural on the ceiling in the lobby area between the meeting and reading rooms. Unveiled on July 4, 1914, the grand ceiling mural was donated by the muralist and painter, H. Siddons Mowbray, in memory of his wife. Mowbray's work also graces the Morgan Library, the University Club Library, and the Appellate Court House in New York City. More of Mowbray's work can be seen in St. John's Episcopal Church nearby.
Mowbray Mural (see details)
The Gunn's vaulted ceiling is divided into in four panels that depict the Greek myth of Proserpine, daughter of Ceres, being abducted by Pluto. The four seasons are represented, along with end-panel quotations from Emerson.
Connecticut RoomThe climate-controlled Connecticut Room contains local histories, genealogical information and historic photograph albums, as well as books by local authors. It offers published volumes and loose files of:
- Local history resources
- Family histories
- Town histories
- Church records
- General Connecticut subjects
Additional historical and genealogical resources are also available for on-site research at the Museum. Call 860-868-7756 to make an appointment.
Stairwell GalleryIn the stairwell between the main and upper levels, and in the mezzanine between the Wykeham and Connecticut Rooms, be sure to stop and check out the stairwell gallery. Featuring the work of local artists (which can usually be purchased), the gallery mounts a new show every six weeks. Past shows have exhibited the work of David Eugene Bell, Banjie Getsinger, Dennis Kyte, Zemma White, Hank Meirowitz and many others.
Main Level: Adult Library (see main floor diagram)
Upon entering the adult library, one cannot help but notice the Circulation Desk. It was built to last by local cabinetmaker and former "Gunnery Boy," Seth Price. An inspirational quote of Mr. Gunn's was inscribed in the center panel of the cherry desk by renowned carver, Brooke Roberts. It reads, "Feast richly on the noble and beautiful things contained in books."
Our collection includes an ever-expanding selection of audio books, eBooks, DVDs, music CDs, newspapers, magazines, large print books and standard volumes of mysteries, best-sellers, classic and short fiction, biographies and literature. Non-fiction ranges from the arts, gardening and cookbooks, to health, history, and reference.
Our attractive study and periodicals area was made possible by a major donation from George Darlow. Please enjoy this airy spot, lit by lots of windows looking out on the tree tops. A quiet reading nook behind the stacks, named in memory of Paul Bruning, looks down upon the Gunnery playing fields.
The library updates its computers, other hardware and software on a regular basis. The adult library has six PCs available to patrons. An ongoing challenge for the library is the task of generating funds to constantly update and upgrade its computers, as technology continues to advance at an increasingly rapid rate.
Our staff and volunteers are always busy at work. In the backroom (half of which used to be the entire Children's Library about a third of the size of the current one) materials are catalogued and processed, damaged items are repaired, and titles are entered into a computer database, making materials easier to find and use. Of course, staff will always find the time to answer any questions you may have, so don't hesitate to ask.
Lower Level: Junior Library (see lower floor diagram)
The 1994 addition to the library constituted the greatest gain in space for the Junior Library, with even more space down below for storage and future expansion. At last, there's room here for expanded collections, more A.V. materials, computers, pre-school books and games, study areas for older kids and rotating art shows. A separate program room has been reserved for various programs and story times. The junior library circulates an ever-increasing number of materials, and is a hub of excited activity and quiet wonder, as it continues to introduce new generations to the charms of reading.
The junior library offers an assortment of programs for young patrons. (See Kids for current details.) Weekly story times for preschoolers and early elementary school students are offered throughout the year, and book discussion groups meet monthly. Tuesday evening programs offer a variety of interesting and entertaining activities for the entire family. Saturday programs for children are offered in the Spring and Fall. These include craft programs, games, movie-time, Spring egg-decorating and Winter gingerbread house making workshops. The Holiday Sale, held each December, gives children a chance to buy gifts at very reasonable prices. Summertime is busy too, with our Summer Reading Program, which encourages reading for fun.
The computers in the junior library offer games, databases to assist with research, and access to the World Wide Web. (See our Internet usage policy.) The staff in the junior library is always ready to help a young reader find the right book, and lead the young researcher to the correct source.
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