About ELA

The Essex Library has been a vital community institution since 1889. Its beginnings were humble – a collection of approximately 500 donated books housed in rented space that was managed by a small group of volunteers. Since that time, the Library has grown to become a modern, professionally staffed organization with a collection of nearly 50,000 items in a beautiful, 9,500 square foot facility.

The Essex Library Association is a member of the LION consortium. Libraries Online Incorporated (LION) is a self-governing consortium of thirty Connecticut library institutions committed to leveraging technology to share, expand, and promote quality, cost-effective information resources and services.

ELA Bylaws

ELA Strategic Plan 2022-2026

ELA FY 2023 Annual Report

Library Mission Statement

Simply stated, the mission of the Essex Library is: the Essex Library Association is your center for free, reliable information. We stimulate curiosity, nurture creativity and enable discovery. We are a window into the world. Learning can take many forms and approaches when covering a population with diverse needs ranging from literacy programs for preschoolers to retirement questions for seniors. Citizens of all ages are invited to use the Library’s services and facilities as they engage in their individual and collective lifelong learning endeavors. The Library is committed to providing the necessary talent and resources required to achieve its mission.

Library Support and Funding

The Essex Library Association was granted 501 (c)(3) status by the IRS in 1970, and functions as an independent non-profit organization. It is governed by a twelve to fifteen member volunteer Board of Trustees who serve three year terms. In addition to being advocates for the Library, the Board of Trustees’ primary roles are to set policies that comply with legal and community standards, and ensure that the Library has the funding it needs to carry out its mission. The Board also hires a Director, who is charged with running the Library’s daily operations in a manner that is in accordance with its policies.

The bulk of the Library’s funding comes from three sources: the Town of Essex, the Annual Membership Appeal, and an endowment. Gifts, grants and miscellaneous other forms of income are also important. Funding from the Town of Essex accounts for approximately one half of the Library’s operating budget revenue each year. As a result, although it does receive some revenue from sources such as gifts, grants, and other fees, the Library relies heavily on its Annual Membership Appeal to fund its operations.

The Friends of the Essex Library is a totally separate group that also functions as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. They act as advocates for the Library within the greater community, and help support us in many other ways, as well, including the coordination of the many volunteers we use. The Friends raise money for the Library that is used to fund programs, materials and other resources that it might not otherwise be able to provide. However, their financial support is intended to be a supplement to, rather than primary revenue source for, our operating budget.