Founded in 1847 when Dr. James Corbit, a young physician, willed a five percent Pennsylvania state stock certificate and two railroad certificates to the trustees of the district school in Cantwell’s Bridge, the library opened its doors the following year and became one of the first free lending libraries in the Mid Atlantic States. Though circulating libraries in Wilmington and New Castle predate our incorporation, usage was restricted to subscribing members. This places Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library in the vanguard of the American Public Library Movement. The library, adjoined to the schoolhouse called the Old Academic Building, opened to patrons on May 20, 1848, welcoming men, women, and children. A fire in the Academy in 1893 damaged the original library, and eventually moved to the brick Georgian called the Wilson Mansion on Main Street in 1924. The library continued to grow, new electric lamps were added in 1927, and a second parlor was constructed in 1937.

By 1967 the library was once again in need of a new home, having outgrown its lodgings, and it came to be at its present residence on High Street. With the donation of land and funds made by prominent resident Leslie Calloway, the new 70 by 30 foot brick colonial style building opened its doors on May 20, 1968, one hundred and twenty years to the day the library first welcomed Delaware residents all those years ago. The fireplace mantel and paneling that now furnish the Delaware Room in the present library building, were moved from the Wilson Mansion. Today, after an extension was added in 1986, the library encompasses 6,100 square feet and a collection of 55,000 materials including our unique Delaware Collection.

The Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library functions as an independent non-profit institution with a governing Board of Trustees. It is a “contractual library” member of the New Castle County Library System, receiving a share of operating funds pursuant to an annually renewable contract. Additional operating revenue comes from the Division of Libraries in the form of an annual non-competitive grant requiring that the library meet specified performance standards. The library relies upon fundraising to supplement its book budget and to maintain and improve its building.

Board of Trustees Year 2024

  • President – Margaret Ryan
  • Vice-President- Scott Davis
  • Secretary- Sital Soni
  • Trustee-at-Large- Nicholas Mancuso
  • Trustee -at- Large – Jennifer Seda
  • Trustee-at-Large – Melissa Nichols
  • Trustee-at-Large – Kristi Devlin

Throughout its history as an incorporated non-profit, the Library has been governed by a Board of Trustees who serve four-year terms and may be re-elected by majority vote. Officers are elected at an annual meeting, serve one-year terms and may succeed themselves in office. In all matters of policy, employment, budget, planning and legal affairs, the Board acts as the Library’s ultimate governing body and may delegate such authority, as it deems necessary, to the Library Director who serves as chief administrative officer.