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MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


TODAY: The Agency collects surveys and statistics to help librarians.
In 1895: In response to a request addressed to the librarians of the free public libraries of Massachusetts for suggestions as to the best means for making a small library useful, a large number of answers were received. The following liberal quotations are made from these replies for the reason that they embody many suggestions which will be useful to those who have the care of our libraries, and also for the purpose of showing the liberal and helpful spirit manifested by the librarians of the free public libraries of Massachusetts:

  • A generous appropriation from the town, so that books can be bought as they are published
  • Make liberal and wise business regulations for the library, and then live up to them
  • Study the needs of the borrowers; make the room pleasant; give information to all; show an interest in the books they read and have plenty of patience...

"Appended to this report will be found tables giving statistics of all free public libraries in the State; the statistics of the reading-rooms connected with them, required by an order of the House of Representatives of 1895; a list of the libraries, by name, with the name of the librarian, and a list of library buildings that have been given, with the names of the donors.

"These statistics for the year 1894-1895, as compared with those of 1891-1892, show that in three years the number of bound volumes in our free public libraries has increased from 2,759,4000 to 3,139,637; that the circulation for home use has increased from 5,040,629 to 6,267,061, or nearly a million and a quarter of volumes.

"It is believed that a careful study of these tables will be serviceable to librarians, trustees and all those who are interested in the progress and development of the free public library system in the State of Massachusetts, where the library is practically as free as the public school."

Commissioners in 1895:

  • 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 1895:

  • Everett, dedicated September 17, 1895
  • Littleton, dedicated December 4, 1895
  • North Attleborough, dedicated September 14, 1895
  • Northborough, dedicated June 12, 18951

Littleton Public Library postcard

Public Library, Littleton
(Image from Digital Commonwealth collections)

New free public libraries in 1895:
Eight 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:
Carver, Dartmouth, Longmeadow, Marshfield, Montgomery, Russell, Salisbury, Sandisfield1

What else happened in 1895?

  • January 15: Tchaikovsky's ballet "Swan Lake" premiered in St. Petersburg.2
  • February 9: The first game of volleyball was played at the YMCA in Holyoke, Massachuestts.3
  • March 28: Construction on Boston's downtown subway system began.4
  • November 8: German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen observed X-rays in a laboratory for the first time.2

1. Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission Reports, 1891-98.
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4. [link].