Ives Memorial Library is located at the corner of Elm and Temple streets, in New Haven, Connecticut. It is considered a Preservation Trust Landmark in the city and is also referred to as the “Main Library" or the “Main Branch."
New Haven Free Public Library opened its doors in 1887, and though the library was shifted to a new building in 1891, it soon outgrew the structure. The mounting space constraints forced the board of directors to plan for a new and bigger building that could house the growing collection of books, for some years into the future.
The project for a new and spacious public library building took wings after Mary E. Ives (Mrs. Hoadley Ives) came forward with an initial donation of $300,000 to build a “fireproof building for the Public Library."
Soon the brick and marble edifice rose on Elm Street, with Cass Gilbert serving as the architect, and was formally dedicated to the City of New Haven on May 27, 1911. It was named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Ives.
Soon, the Fair Haven Branch Library, the first branch in the system, opened at 182 Grand Avenue. The Donald G. Mitchell Memorial Library followed suit and became the second branch of the New Haven Free Public Library system in 1922.
In 1968, the need again for more space raised the demand for a new building for the library. After years of delay and indecision, it was agreed that a renovation and expansion of the existing building would be better than a reconstruction.
As a result, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates began renovating the neo-Georgian building, and after two years of extensive repairs and additions, the library was reopened to the public on November 5, 1990.
The expanded library had an overall size of 103,000 square feet and was designed to artistically integrate and complement the old, while at the same time proclaim its own contemporary identity.
Nearing hundred years at the Elm Street location, Ives Memorial Library continues to uphold its mission to promote literacy, reading, cultural understanding, and personal development of the common man, free of charge. It achieves this goal by providing unrestricted and equal access to knowledge and information in an environment conducive to study and resource sharing.