An illustrated version of our Otis Library sign.

Our Mission

Otis Library, functioning as the public library of Norwich and its environs, provides free and open access to information, ideas and services that assist residents of the greater Norwich area to meet their personal, educational, professional and information needs. The library enriches our region by maintaining a safe and welcoming environment and by offering resources that promote lifelong learning.

Our Story

During the summer and fall of 1849 construction commenced on a brick building on Union Square in the heart of Norwich. It would be the culmination of a vision of a wealthy merchant and Norwich resident, Deacon Joseph Otis. Otis envisioned providing the city of Norwich with a permanent public library. He had purchased the land for the building several years earlier and donated five thousand dollars towards the building’s construction.

Built on a plot of land at the intersection of Union and Church Streets, the two-story building was designed by a local architect Joshua W. Shepard. The Greek-Revival style brick building measured forty feet in length and twenty-eight feet in width. Construction on the library was completed in late 1849 and the Founding Board of Trustees held their first formal meeting in the new building on January 14, 1850. In March of that same year, the Trustees appointed Hamlin B. Buckingham as the institution’s first librarian.

During the first forty years of the library’s existence it depended on annual membership subscriptions to finance its operations. However, throughout that same period of time the library experienced stretches of financial instability. The library was forced to close its doors in 1870 for nearly one year due to inadequate funding. An important turning point in the library’s existence occurred on November 1, 1891 when the library’s board of trustees made the decision to make the Otis Library a “free” library. Within a few months the removal of a membership subscription fee sparked a meteoric rise in the library’s membership from about 400 patrons to slightly over 4,000 members.

The library experienced another major transition when having outgrown its original location on Union Square, it moved its operations to the location of the former Enterprise Store at 261 Main Street. The library opened its doors to the public during August of 1962.

The Otis Library was totally transformed in 2006 when the building on Main Street was completely torn down, rebuilt and expanded at the same location. On April 29, 2007 the library welcomed back the public.

Since then, Otis Library has continued to provide exemplary service for the Norwich community. The library strives to meet community needs through its innovative programming and services, while also acting as a resource hub. For more information about our history and the library in general, please reach out to

Otis Library

Library Reviews

"Otis Library offers one-of-a-kind services to all ages, all walks of life. I love that they have such a great variety of books, tapes, cds and programs for people with all types of interests. I have been fortunate to take many of these programs and also to teach gardening programs, both virtual and in-person. The staff is a always friendly, a true delight to work with."
Jan Mallett
"Norwich would not be what it is without Otis Library - Otis is a national award winning library with programs and events that never disappoint. They are tremendous community partners and add an immense amount of value to Norwich. Their genealogy resources are also not to be overlooked if you're researching family histories. The staff are always friendly and gracious."
Dayne Rugh
"I have been going to this library for most of my life. As a child I spent some of my happiest moments there. They continue to be sensitive to the needs of the community, even as those needs have changed significantly over the years. The staff is knowledgeable, respectful and professional. Oh and they have great books (among other things)!"
Judith Deglin
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