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MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


Today: Massachusetts enjoys interlibrary loan and statewide delivery of library resources.
In 1894: "It has occurred to the commission that there may be persons in the towns to which it has supplied libraries who wish to pursue inquiries which they are discouraged in making because needed books are not readily accessible....Some of the libraries of the Commonwealth are generously lending books to students within the State and at a distance, notably Harvard College library, the Boston Athenaeum and the free public library of Worcester....

"Such loans are generally made by a librarian through other libraries rather than to individuals, the borrowing libraries making themselves responsible for losses and injuries to books and for the cost of expressage or fees of registering packages at the post office....[the commission] invites persons in towns to which it has supplied libraries, who wish to pursue popular investigations, to make their wants known to the officers of the libraries in the towns in which they live. 

"These officers will then decide whether to apply to the chairman of the commission for the desired books...The commission...will use the various facilities which it can command in meeting the wishes of the libraries which ask for aid."1

Commissioners in 1894:

  • Samuel Swett Green, Worcester
  • Henry S. Nourse, Lancaster
  • E.P. Sohier, Secretary, Beverly
  • Anna E. Ticknor, Boston
  • C.B. Tillinghast, Chairman, Boston1

New library buildings in 1894:

  • Ayer, dedicated June 15
  • Essex, new town hall and library building dedicated February 15
  • Hatfield, dedicated May 30
  • Hopkinton, no dedication date given
  • Northampton, dedicated October 23
  • North Brookfield, dedicated September 20
  • Scituate, dedicated May 26
  • Shirley, dedicated April 25
  • Townsend, dedicated July 111

vintage photo of Hatfield Public Library

Dickinson Memorial Library, Hatfield
(Image from Digital Commonwealth collections)

New free public libraries in 1894:
Thirteen towns have accepted the provisions of chapter 347 of the Acts of 1890, and have been supplied with books by the commission during the year as follows:
Bellingham, Chester, Conway, Dighton, Dyer, Florida, Granville, Hancock, Monroe, Shutesbury, Truro, Wendell, West Newbury1

What else happened in 1894?

  • January 9: New England Telephone and Telegraph installed the first battery-operated telephone switchboard in Lexington, Massachusetts2. This technological advance reduced the time occupied by an operator per call from 50.77 to 16.63 seconds.3
  • April 13: The border between Boston and Brookline was established.4
  • The Union Street Railway Company purchased 46 acres of land in Dartmouth to create Lincoln Park, initially as a way to connect Fall River to New Bedford. From the early 1920s until the mid-1980s, Lincoln Park was a successful amusement park with a bowling alley, dance hall, and a full set of rides and other attractions.5
  • January 7: William Kennedy Dickson received a patent for motion picture film.2
  • March 12: For the first time, Coca-Cola was sold in bottles.2
  • March 25: Coxey's Army (of the unemployed), the first significant protest march in the United States, departed from Massillon, Ohio, for Washington, D.C.2

1. Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission Reports, 1891-98.
2. 1894 in the United States - Wikipedia entry [link].
3. [link].
4. [link].
5. Lincoln Park (Dartmouth, Massachusetts) - Wikipedia entry [link].