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

    history-1877-john-day-ferguson
    John 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

    history-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

    history-1889-geib
    The Ferguson Library moves to the Geib property on Atlantic Street.

  • 1909

    history-1909-bedford
    The Library moves to its present location at Bedford and Broad streets.

  • 1911

    The Ferguson Library becomes a free public library.

  • 1930

    history-1930-main-library
    Main Library expanded.

  • 1940

    history-1940-busmobile
    Bookmobile service begins.

  • 1954

    history-1954-weed-memorial
    Weed Memorial Branch opens in Springdale.

  • 1967

    history-1967-river-branch
    Turn of River Branch opens in North Stamford.

  • 1970

    history-1970-south-end-branch
    South End Branch opens in the South End Community Center.

  • 1972-1975

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

  • 1979

    history-1979-renovation-expansion
    Expansion and renovation of Main Library begins. Friends of Ferguson incorporated.

  • 1982

    history-1982-2nd-expansion
    Second Main Library expansion completed.

  • 1985

    Card catalog closes.

  • 1987

    history-1987-library-foundation
    Ferguson 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

    history-1997-purple-bus
    Purple Bus service begins. 
    South End Branch reopens after renovation.

  • 1999

    history-1999-dvds
    Library begins circulating DVDs. 
    Passport Office opens at Main Library. Starbucks opens at Main Library.

  • 2000

    history-2000-harry-bennet
    Harry Bennett Branch opens. 
    New Bookmobile. Library begins circulating ebooks.

  • 2004

    Library introduces Wifi. Online homework help.

  • 2006

    history-2006-online-help
    Weed Memorial & Hollander Branch reopens after renovation. Online live reference help.

  • 2007

    Library celebrates 125th anniversary.

  • 2008

    Main Library renovation begins.

  • 2010

    history-2010-south-end-40-bday
    South End Branch celebrates 40th anniversary. Harry Bennett Branch celebrates 10th anniversary. Main Library renovation completed.

  • 2015

    history-2015-south-end-bday

    South End Branch celebrates 45th anniversary. Bookmobile celebrates 75th anniversary.

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.

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Ferguson Library Directors

Andrew W. Paradise                   1881 – 1896
Elizabeth Van Hoevenberg        1896 – 1907
Alice M. Colt                                 1907 – 1942
Mary Louise Alexander              1942 – 1965
Marie V. Hurley                           1965 – 1976
Ernest A. DiMattia, Jr.                 1976 – 2014
Alice Knapp                                  2014 –