Colchester was established in 1698 at an important colonial crossroads, and served as one of Connecticut's earliest manufacturing towns. Private library associations serving the residents of the town began as early as the 1820s. Membership in the library associations cost $1.00 or $2.00 per year--equivalent to a basic cable TV subscription today. In the earliest days, members could pay for their membership with their produce, such as potatoes, corn, etc. Over the years, Library association collections were located in several buildings, and the collections were lost twice in building fires.
In 1903, Dr. Edwin B. Cragin donated $30,000* for the construction of a 4,000 square foot building in memory of his father Edwin T. Cragin. The Colchester Library Association donated its collection and the Town agreed to support the operations of the Library, which was opened to the public in July 1905. The Library was governed from 1905 to 2002 by the Cragin Memorial Library Board of Trustees.
The Library's Board of Trustees, chaired by Mrs. Lynn Norton, and Library Director Siobhan Grogan spearheaded an expansion effort, leading to the renovation of the 1905 building and addition of a 16,000 square foot expansion, completed in September 2002. The Library became a town department in 2002.
*Worth about $3,000,000 in today's dollars.