History of the Sharon Public Library

  • 1877: Town votes to appropriate money received for a Dog License for the foundation of a fund to be used for a free public library. Total appropriation: $234.17.
     
  • 1879: When money from the County Dog License is deemed insufficient to fund a library, the town votes to appropriate additional funds totalling to $1,000. First Board of Trustees is established. Library opens to the public on June 7, 1879 with Mrs. Adeline Wood as librarian overseeing a collection of 524 books, 93 of which are from a private agricultural library donated for public use. The library is located in Mrs. Wood's home. Hours of operation: Tuesdays and Saturday evenings—6PM to 9PM; Saturday afternoons—3PM to 5PM.
     
  • 1881: Book collection now totals 1,277 volumes with total circulation of 8,809. The first library fundraiser, a local fair, brings in proceeds of $321.89. The library is valued by the town at $1,200 and insurance coverage is issued in the amount of $1,000.
     
  • 1884: Library is moved to two rooms in the Town Hall.
     
  • 1887: Legislation regarding the Board of Trustees is enacted. The Board is to consist of 6 persons to hold office for a term of 3 years, with 2 members to be elected annually. Periodicals are added on a regular subscription basis to the 2,743 item collection. Trustees report concern that too many books are being borrowed from the Fiction and Juvenile (ages 14+) classes.
     
  • 1889: Library receives substantial bequests: $300 from the Russel Drake Fund and $500 from the Eliza G. Perkins Fund. Emma Baker is appointed librarian.
     
  • 1903: The library, with an amazing 6,400 volumes on its shelves, closes for two months to reclassify books and write cards for a permanent card catalog index.
     
  • 1904: A portion of a bequest from Olive Haydn is used to purchase a lot from Dr. George Dennett to build a new library. The lot, located on the corner of North Main and High Streets, measures 100' x 105'. Dr. Dennett donates $100 of the purchase money to the building fund.
     
  • 1911: Library is temporarily moved to a vacant store in the Dennett Block (rent at $250/annum). Collection now totals well over 6,000 volumes and library's expanded hours include Thursday evenings. However, "Juvenile" books are only issued on Tuesday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Various civic groups focus on fundraising for a permanent facility. The Sharon Public Library Association is incorporated with an 18-member Board of Directors.
A black-and-white photograph showing the dedication of the flag pole, circa 1960



A black-and-white photograph of the adult lounge, circa 1960



A photograph of the July 4, 1965 Bicentennial Parade library float



A photograph of the May 1980 library expansion



A photograph of the Deborah Sampson statue (sculpted by Lu Stubbs, dedicated November 11, 1989)
  • 1912: Circulation statistics soar to 15,000. A telephone becomes part of the business equipment. A rental collection of fiction titles is added so that more money can be allocated to the purchase of non-fiction titles for compliance with American Library Association standards.
     
  • 1913: Miss Isadora Paine becomes the third librarian and is assisted by Mrs. Edith Hodsdon. The age limit for children is lowered to nine years and patrons are now allowed to check out two non-fiction titles on one card. The library begins a collaborative effort with the school system to lend 20 to 30 volumes per month to each grade; this program continues until 1969, when the town adds an Elementary School Librarian position.
     
  • 1914-1915: Despite fundraising efforts, there are insufficient funds for a new building. Application is made to Andrew Carnegie for asssistance. The sum of $10,000 is offered for building construction with an additional $1,000 for incidentals paid from the Sharon Public Library Association. The building is constructed within this budget; the architect is Mr. C. Howard Walker of Boston. Cost to the town: $0. So successful are the plans that they are distributed to other towns in Massachusetts and recommended in a pamphlet prepared by the American Library Association for nationwide distribution. The plans also appeared in The Brickbuilder, an architectural periodical, and are included in the Encyclopedia Britannica article on library architecture.
  • Once established, the Library continued steadily to expand our collection and services. In 1960, the first addition was added with a sum of $72,000 for construction. The library was again expanded in 1979. All additions to the original structure, listed with the National Register of Historic Places, have left the Georgian facade intact. Governance of the library by a Board of Trustees remains as it was first established in 1887.
  • Today the Library houses over 80,000 items and includes music CDs, audiobooks, DVDs, newspapers, magazines, and print items of historical value. In addition to traditional circulation and reference services, the Library also offers a wide array of programs for all age groups and hosts local cultural events. We sponsor annual One Book, One Town programming, support the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) literacy program collaboratively with the Stoughton Public Library, and work cooperatively with multiple community organizations to meet the diverse needs of the residents of Sharon.