History of the Library


Reverend Samuel Watson, pastor of Barrington Congregational Church helped form the Barrington Library Society where he served as librarian. The Society was composed of 30 charter members (4 women and 26 men) who paid no more than $1 a year for library membership. 

Although not truly a town-supported free public library, the Barrington Library Society was a serious beginning, providing books for its members, particularly history and theology. Fiction, however, was not allowed in the library since it was believed that fiction "worketh abomination and maketh a lie".

The Barrington Library Society continued in its mission for 20 years but gradually fell into disuse.


1880 - The Town of Barrington appropriated $250 for its first library. Residents donated over 2,000 books and the town welcomed the new librarian Isaac Cady, who was able to purchase 212 new books, including fiction.

1885 - Circulation of library materials increased to 6,600 with more than 80% attributed to fiction titles.

1888 - The Town of Barrington built a new Town Hall, creating space for its new library along with town offices, high school, antiquarian society and a one-room jail.

1889 - Emma Staples Bradford became the first library director. She holds the record for longest tenure as library director in Barrington (1889 to 1939). She introduced book classification, children's services and an addition to the library space. While serving as the director, she saw the size of the collection grow from 2,500 to 25,000 items. 

1913 - The Library began offering story hour to children.

DATE UNKNOWN - Susan Demery became the library director. She introduced the card catalog, service for homebound patrons and another addition to the building along with adding phonographic records to the collection.

DATE UNKNOWN - Roberta Cairns became the library director. She expanded the number of staff and the size of the collection while for a few years operating a branch of the library on Bay Spring Ave.

DATE UNKNOWN- Louise Blalock became library director. She helped to form the Friends of Barrington Public Library.

1981 - Ruth Corkill became the library director. She served in this position until 1991. She oversaw the transition of the library from Town Hall to the former Leander R. Peck School.



1984 - The library moved into the newly renovated Leander R. Peck School, located just across the parking area from Town Hall.

1991 - Joan Schaefer became the library director. She served in this position until 1999. She introduced computers and the Internet into the library,  increased the number and variety of audio-visual materials and received town support to open the library on Sundays.

1999 - Deborah Barchi became the library director. She served in this position until 2017. She was responsible for making the Teen Librarian and Community Services Librarian position full-time and creating the Digital Services Librarian position.

2005 - The library completed a major renovation of the first floor which included: the Circulation Department, the Reference Department, a new Teen Room, computer and printing area and reconfiguring all of the nonfiction and fiction stacks.

2017 - The library completed a major renovation of the second floor which included: the stairwell, Children's Room, the Auditorium/Gallery, Meeting Rooms, the Technical Services Department, the Staff Room and the Administrative Offices.

2017 - Kristen Chin became the current library director.

Information gathered from a report prepared by Deborah Barchi, Library Director, borrowing extensively from a presentation prepared by Joan Schaefer, retired Library Director. Updated by library staff, January 2019.



The Leander R. Peck School opened September 4, 1917 for Barrington students in grades 6 to 12. The building was a gift to the town from Mrs. Peck, in memory of her husband.

The Peck family's generosity to the Town of Barrington is of historic note. Mrs. Peck's son Frederick was a member of the Building Committee for the school. The deed of gift to the Town for the school included all of the furnishings.

The exterior of the school is brick and was expanded in 1929, and again in 1936. The original school now forms the west wing of the present library/community center.

A declining student population resulted in the closing of the Peck School in 1979. In 1982, the Town approved a bond for renovation of the Peck School into a public library/community center and approved the renovation of the former public library space at Town Hall to make way for the School Administration Offices.

Excerpts from a report printed by the Friends of Barrington Public Library.

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