Public libraries play a crucial role in fostering education, intellectual development, and important community engagement. Libraries serve as accessible hubs of knowledge and provide a wide range of resources, including books, digital media, and special programs. The features and services of most libraries typically appeal to all, with some noteworthy benefits to seniors.

There are 169 towns in Connecticut, with 165 principal public libraries (4 towns have no public library). When you factor in non-principal, branch, and bookmobiles, the state boasts of 240 total library outlets. Darien residents are particularly fortunate to have one of the absolute best public libraries right here in town, which provides a wealth of resources perhaps known, but for some people maybe not-yet-discovered. Beyond traditional book lending, the library provides computer access, educational workshops, guest speakers and featured authors, as well as offering daily, weekly, and monthly newspapers and magazines. In 2023, over 213,000 people visited the Darien library doors and 40,000 people attended over 1,200 free events. There were also nearly 500,000 books and materials checked out by readers! Unfortunately, some might feel that physical limitations (especially anyone with a form of visual impairment) prevent them from more fully optimizing the presence and access to books and materials found within the library. For many libraries in Connecticut and beyond this might be true, but the Darien library offers its visitors some unique solutions for people who may be unable to read due to visual, perceptual, reading or physical disabilities.

Unique Products at the Darien Library

The library offers a variety of systems and products that enable reading-impaired individuals to enjoy a broad range of written or spoken content.  In fact, the library is now a hub for the Connecticut State Library for Accessible Books, or CTLAB. What does this mean?

CTLAB is a system or network provided by Library of Congress’ National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Print Disabled. Through this system, residents with a visual, perceptual, reading or physical disability are able to access fiction and non-fiction magazines, books, and music. Content is available for all ages and multiple languages in audio and braille formats. People interested in accessing the CTLAB system can apply by completing a simple application form available at the library. Once approved, CTLAB will mail materials directly to users or the materials can be sent to the library for pickup.

The library does not limit its support of the visually impaired to the CTLAB system. Examples of other products available at the library include:

  • Audiobooks – perhaps the most well-known recent advances to reading, audiobooks are simply voice recordings of a book that can be exact (word-for-word) or abbreviated versions of the book. These may be accessed via computer, tablet, smartphone, in-car entertainment system, or though a home audio system. The library provides audiobooks in three formats (CDs, MP3 Playaways for children and via digital e-Audiobooks), and offers a large selection from its digital collection.
  • Digital Books – or e-Books, enable the user to replicate the reading process, but via a computer or mobile device vs. printed format. E-Books allow readers to customize the size for easier reading.
  • LyriQ Test-to-Speech Reader – this unique piece of equipment enables the user to place a piece of text (i.e. magazine article, book, etc.) under the device’s camera and the text is read and communicated to user via headphones.
  • Merlin Ultra Magnifier – a full color, auto-focus video magnifier system that allows a user with limited vision abilities to view, read, write, and even help with crafts such as needlepoint! Images can be viewed in color, black and white, or through enhanced high contrast positive or negative modes.

Another special feature that can benefit seniors is the library’s “Book-a-Librarian” service, where one-on-one help is provided twice a month for any technology needs or devices. For more on this program visit . You can fill out the form online to book this service or you can call the Reference Desk at (203) 669-5236 and they can put in your request over the phone.

So, what’s the best tip we can provide regarding accessing any of the library’s special features, programs, or services? Pay a visit, either physically or virtually, and find out directly about its vast amount of available resources and support. You will learn first-hand what sets Darien’s library apart from the other 165 Connecticut public libraries.

You can “visit” the library online at: or you can give them a call (203) 655-1234. And if you are a Darien senior you can give At Home In Darien a call at (203) 655-2227 and we will pick you up and take you to the library and bring you back home when you are ready.