Anna Eliot Ticknor, one of the original members of the Commission and a pioneer of correspondence courses (the ancestor of modern-day distance education programs), died at the age of 73.
"[Ticknor's] appreciation of the free public library as an educational force, together with her experimental knowledge of the practical results that can be accomplished by simple and direct methods, made her judgment of especial value in outlining and crystallizing the work of the commission."
-- From the 1896 annual report
On a brighter note, the 1896 report addressed serving children and young patrons at the Commonwealth's libraries, noting that the Boston Public Library's dedicated children's space and collection of around 3,000 volumes could serve as an inspirational example for smaller towns.
The report also mentions the 18 traveling libraries of the Woman's Education Association, used to visit the estimated 25 percent of Massachusetts residents who did not have access to town library services at the time.
Ohio's own Board of Commissioners was put in charge of that state's library in 1896, and Michigan and New Jersey began making their first steps towards establishing a similar agency during the year as well.1
What else happened in 1896?
Photo of Anna Eliot Ticknor from the Ticknor Society's webpage [link], retrieved 06/01/2015.
1. Massachusetts Free Public Library Commission Reports, 1891-98.
2. Massachusetts Audubon Society - Wikipedia entry [link].
3. www.massmoments.org [link].
4. 1896 - Wikipedia entry [link].