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MBLC Celebrates 125 Years


"Newton Free Library, Newton, MA. Staff & trustees. Sign "Happiness is the new librarian, Henry Bates".

Sign announcing the arrival of Henry Bates Jr. at the Newton Library
(Image from Digital Commonwealth collections)

On February 10, 1970, the state bookmobile caught fire totally gutting the vehicle and damaging over 2,000 books. As they drove back to Lee from the Sandisfield and Otis area, two librarians noticed smoke rising and stopped immediately and jumped free from the vehicle - realizing the fuel tank was directly under the driver's seat.1

In 1970, the state legislature authorized a bill for $4,202,000 in state aid for free public libraries during FY 1971. With the enactment of this legislation, Massachusetts was up front nationally for adjusting its state aid program to meet the rapidly increasing costs of library services.1

"Summer reading is out of this world" was the theme of 1970's summer reading program, sponsored by the Children's Book Council, Inc. Ezra Jack Keats, a popular children's book artist, designed the poster art.1

What else happened in 1970?

  • Four students at the Kent State University in Ohio were slain by National Guardsmen at a demonstration protesting incursion into Cambodia on May 4.2
  • The Boston Bruins were the Stanley Cup Champions.2
  • The Beatles broke up.2
  • Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both died of drug-related deaths at age 27.2

1. MBLC newsletters, 1970.
2. [link].