Westerly Library and Wilcox Park is a private non-profit owned and operated by the Memorial and Library Association of Westerly. The Association was established in 1892 to commemorate the volunteer soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War. Designed by Longstaff & Hurd, architects from Bridgeport, Connecticut, Westerly Library opened its doors in 1894 through the initiative of local industrialist-inventor, Stephen Wilcox. Mr. Wilcox donated the land on which the library is situated, as well as $25,000 to be matched by citizens of the community.
Originally the library included a bowling alley, gymnasium, art gallery, museum, and meeting space for the Grand Army of the Republic. On opening day, August 15, 1894, Westerly Library had a collection of 5,000 volumes, and the building was open 24 hours each week. Additions were constructed in 1902, 1928 and 1992. The final addition, which won the 1994 Historic Preservation Award from the Rhode Island Preservation Commission, nearly doubled the size of the building.
Today, the library is open 60 hours each week, and the collection includes books, audiobooks, magazines, CDs, and DVDs, and more totaling over 287,000 items. There are computers for public use throughout the building. The library, a participant in a statewide-automated network, offers access to online databases, e-books, and over four million items from library collections across the state of Rhode Island.