"I have cherished every day of my time here in Darien and as director of the library," she said in a release. "No one could ever hope to be in such a welcoming and supportive community -- I have made many friends, and I work with an incredible staff and board. Next year I will complete my 35th year and that's the right time to pass my responsibilities on to other hands.
Berry's last day will be Feb. 28, 2014.
The board of trustees named Chief Administrative Officer Alan Kirk Gray as Berry's successor. He will take his position on March 1, 2014. Gray has been with the library for seven years, and among other tasks, was responsible for the planning and services incorporated into the new Darien Library which opened in January 2009.
"Alan has been essential to the growth and success of the 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," Berry said. "Darien is going to be in great shape going forward under his leadership."
Bruce Ferguson, president of the library's board of trustees, said the board accepted Berry's decision reluctantly, but understood the reasons for her decision.
"Louise has been the heart and soul of this library for so many years that it is difficult to think of her not as director, but she has built such a strong staff that we are sure that the standards, values and expectations she has set for extraordinary service to the community are now the values, standards and expectations of every member of this library."
Berry grew up in Chillicoth, Ohio, where she started working in libraries at age 13. She graduated from the University of New Mexico and received her master's degree in library service from Columbia University, where she was president of the student council. She was appointed director of Darien Library March 1, 1979. She began her career at New York Public Library and also served as head of adult services at Westport Public Library. She is nationally known for developing at Darien Library the practice of "extreme customer service."
"The best part of Louise telling us now," Ferguson said, "is that we have more than a year to celebrate the great things that she has contributed to the community of Darien and to recognize her achievements for what they are -- the highest standard of professional public service. Louise Berry has made Darien Library into one of the great public libraries in the nation, but even more than that, she has, with her leadership, friendship and empathy, contributed to the lives of tens of thousands of library users and Darien residents."