Who We Are

Our History

Late in 1970 a group of a dozen or so young women used to trade paperback books among themselves, when they decided to establish a club whose focus would be the creation of library services in Darien.
These women decided to affiliate themselves with the General Federation of Woman’s Club; a national organization that among other things was closely associated with the establishment and funding of local libraries. The charter membership of the Darien Woman’s Club consisted of twenty members and had its first meeting in December of 1970. Their mission then and now is to promote charitable endeavors, cultural improvements, and civic pride and unity among the women of the city of Darien and surrounding communities.
Book mobile
The DWC was the prime impetus for the establishment of mobile library services in Darien in 1976. Referenda to fund a library in Darien had failed twice. The DWC understood the importance of having a public library in town, and this group of determined women took the initiative to raise money and create one. They organized a doorbell ringing campaign and over two weekends a group of 50 ladies, many pushing babies in strollers, were able to raise $6,000. They used this money to purchase a bookmobile. DWC members and others in the community donated books from their homes, and many members volunteered their time to staff the bookmobile.
In 1978, after a successful referendum, The Darien Volunteer Library was established in a storefront at Brookhaven Plaza with four paid staff members and many volunteers, most of whom were DWC members. The library’s popularity grew rapidly during the next several years and moved twice, each time to larger storefronts in the shopping plaza. The Darien Woman’s Club sponsored bridge and pinochle marathons to raise funds to support the library.
Mary Ann Bowden (right), DWC President, receiving keys to bookmobile from Barbara Paul, Chicago Hts Free Public Library on June 24, 1978.
In 1988 the Darien Library and neighboring Willowbrook Library were merged as a result of a citizens’ referendum, and the Indian Prairie Library District was established.
Although the establishment of library services was the main focus of DWC in the early days, there have been many other community accomplishments. The DWC focuses a great deal on areas of conservation, education, health and the arts. A short list of those accomplishments include annual service and fine art scholarships, adoption of local needy families, sponsorship of a Darien Youth Club team, and donations to local schools, food pantries, Darien Historical Society, and Safety Village of Darien.
In addition to the fundraising activities which allow the DWC to accomplish all it does for the community, members established social activities to appeal to a broad group of women. These included reading discussion groups, bowling, needlework, gourmet dinners and mom and tots groups. They have conducted road rallies, health seminars, arts and crafts shows, baby sitting clinics and a creative children’s art fair. Many of these activities are still being held today. Women in Darien today owe much to those pioneering ladies.
Over fifty years later the Darien Woman’s Club continues to draw women of all ages and experiences. It  provides an opportunity to serve our community, while meeting new people and having fun.
by Pamela Kanner, DWC Member