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After three decades, Darien library director stepping down

The woman who shaped the Darien library into one of the best in the country, and transformed it into a hub of technology and events in town is retiring after 34 years.

Louise Berry, Darien library director, plans to retire on February 28, 2014.

Berry oversaw the evolution of the library from the Dewey Decimal System to a cutting edge research facility, replete with computers, fax machines, copiers and even a book-printing machine.

“I have loved every minute of it,” Berry said of working with the “best library staff in the world.”

The library board unanimously voted for Alan Kirk Gray, current chief administrative officer, to step into her position next year.

“Alan has been essential to the growth and success of Darien Library since he joined us, and we have all come to rely on his expertise in planning, development of services, budgeting, management and operations,” she said.

When Berry started at the library there was little technology, she said at a press conference Tuesday morning, Jan. 22. Now the library has many computers, touch screen tablets, self-checkout stations and technology classes. They also have the highest per capita circulation in Connecticut and half a million visitors a year.

Gray said the library and its staff are considered to be among the best in the country.

“That’s what Louise is known for,” he said, “setting the standard for extreme customer service.”

Her early announcement will allow for a smooth transition and a whole year to “celebrate the great things that she has contributed to the community for Darien and to recognize her achievements for what they are — the highest standards of professional public service,” said Bruce Ferguson, president of the board of trustees.

Berry plans to retire with her husband to a family home in New Hampshire, she said. She has no plans to work at another library, Berry added, because she can’t imagine working anywhere else.

Her career began at the New York Public Library and Westport Library. She was appointed director of Darien Library on March 1, 1979.

The library board will sponsor a gala in Berry’s honor on Saturday, April 27.

ydavydov@darientimes.com

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