Scranton Memorial Library plans for the future

Madison's E.C. Scranton Memorial Library – a cultural anchor and community meeting place for more than a century – is planning to double its size.
The Scranton Memorial Library was designed in 1900 by Henry Bacon. Photo courtesy of E.C. Scranton Memorial Library

Madison's E.C. Scranton Memorial Library has been a cultural and civic anchor since it opened the doors of its Henry Bacon-designed building more than a century ago. Beyond circulating books, a library is also a place where community groups and clubs meet, teenagers access high-speed internet for homework projects, preschoolers enjoy early childhood programs, and entrepreneurs develop business ideas.

The library is so popular that it is planning to double its size.

"We're really out of space," says Executive Director Beth Crowley. "Everyone is on top of each other."

The ambitious Futures Plan proposes to create a library for the 21st century, expanding the 17,000 square foot space to more than 37,000 square feet. The $15 million estimated cost for the project is to be funded by a combination of grants, donations, and a $9 million town bond that will go before the Madison voters in a special referendum on February 7. The library has raised $4.37 million of the cost so far.

The original library opened in 1901 and has been expanded twice, most recently in 1989. Crowley says that the library is now bursting at the seams. The American Library Association recommends public libraries have 1.5 feet of space per capita. Madison, with a population of 18,000, has .9 square feet of space per capita at its library. The result is that local groups are often competing over meeting spaces, teenagers lack a separate area, and the children's area is inadequate, according to Crowley.

The expansion plans also call for onsite parking, which the library does not currently have.

"There is a lot more use of the library as community gathering space or people coming here and needing a place to work," says Crowley.

While computers and digital resources have increasingly become an important part of the library, demand for books remains high, says Crowley.

"In Madison, there is a strong sense of support for the library and what we do," she says.

More information about the Futures Plan and library expansion are available here.

To learn more about E.C. Scranton Memorial Library, visit its profile on

Did you know?

Library usage is on the rise. Annual library visits in Greater New Haven increased by 22 percent from 2002 to 2015, according to the Greater New Haven Community Index 2016.

This story is part of the Inspiration Monday story series produced by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.