The Westport Reading Room and Library Association is founded on February 4, 1886. It is located in a leased second floor room on the Hurlbutt block opposite what would later become the “old library building” on the Post Road East at Parker Harding Plaza. Total first year membership is 146 and first year circulation is 962 volumes. Membership costs $1.00 per year. Mrs. Frances A. Gray is the volunteer librarian and the Reading Room is open Monday through Saturday in the evening after supper. To stretch access to the small collection, borrowing is limited to Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Mr. Morris K. Jesup offers to donate funds for a new library building that becomes the Westport Library. Located across the street from the original reading room, it is dedicated April 8. Thanks to his generosity and $15,000 in additional private contributions, the $6,000 building fund is redirected to an endowment and acquisition of new books for the Library’s growing collection.The Westport Reading Room and Library Association incorporates as The Westport Library Association and elects its first board. The Town of Westport initiates an annual appropriation of $1,000 to the Library and receives the power to elect three directors to the Library’s executive committee.