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MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


TODAY: The MBLC partners with libraries and organizations across the Commonwealth to provide statewide access to online resources such as databases and eBooks through our public portal.
In 1899: According to the Tenth Report of the Free Public Library Commission, "No other community in the world enjoys to-day [sic] so universally the benefits of a free public library as the people of this Commonwealth. Practically, free books are the birthright of every man, woman and child in Massachusetts.

"The feast has been prepared. Our duty is to see that the table is kept replenished and attractive, and that every man, woman and child shall be made welcome. How to bring the library within the easiest reach of every home and scatter its treasures by every fireside is the problem of the present."1

Commissioners in 1899:

  • Samuel Swett Green, Worcester
  • Mabel Simpkins, Yarmouth
  • E.P. Sohier, Secretary, Beverly
  • Henry S. Nourse, Lancaster
  • C.B. Tillinghast, Chairman, Boston1

New library buildings in 1899:

  • Bancroft Public Library in Hopedale (pictured below), dedicated December 141

Hopedale (Bancroft) Public Library postcard
(Image from Digital Commonwealth collections)

What else happened in 1899?

  • April 22: Vladimir Nabokov was born.2
  • June 12: Ground was broken for Boston’s Symphony Hall.3
  • July: The newsboys strike of 1899, waged against newspaper behemoths Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in protest of rising costs to the newsies, lasted for two weeks and later inspired the hit Disney movie and musical Newsies.4
  • October 11: The Boer War began between Britain and the Boers in southern Africa. It lasted nearly three years, ending on May 31, 1902.5

1. Tenth Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, 1900.
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