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MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


1914 library volumes and population map of Massachusetts

The Public Libraries of Massachusetts map.1
(ca. 1914, update of 1893 and 1904 versions)

In 1914: "In more than a third of the libraries in Massachusetts, the salaries of librarians are merely nominal, averaging less than $2 a week."2
In 2015 dollars, this would be $46.96.3

TODAY: The average income of the lowest-paid 33% of library directors in Massachusetts was $19.42 per hour, or $777 for a 40-hour week.4

What else happened in 1914?

  • On June 25 a devastating fire ignited in the leather-manufacturing district of Salem. The massive fire destroyed 1,376 buildings and left 18,000 people, almost half of Salem's population, homeless.5
  • World War I hostilities began in June when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo.6
  • Babe Ruth won his major league debut with the Red Sox on July 11.7
  • The Panama Canal officially opened on August 15. The toll to cross was 90 cents per cargo ton.8

1. [link].
2. Twenty-fifth Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, 1915.
3. [link].
4. MBLC website [link].
5. [link].
6. [link].
7. [link].
8. [link].