Articles

Public Libraries

Public Libraries

^Andrew Carnegie^ spent a good deal of his fortune building "Carnegie Libraries" in communities across America.


History

While library service in Ogdensburg dates back to at least 1828, the library moved into its present location, a Victorian mansion, in 1895. A remodel in 1921-1922, intended to transform the exterior, resulted in a fire during the construction process that destroyed much of the interior. Fortunately, most of the collection had already been removed, and what remained was stored in a fireproof vault. While some were damaged by water, the cost to the library – and to history – could have been much greater. The items in the vault were part of the Remington Indian Collection, donated by Frederic Remington’s widow Eva, currently housed in the museum across Washington Street from the library and the impetus behind the building’s remodel.

Through the years, the library has continued to grow and adapt itself to the needs of the public, adding the Isabella D. Dodge children’s room in 1979, (improved in 1984 and again in 2010,) an elevator in 1983, public computers in 1987, and a teen room in 2009.

All three levels of the library contain artwork by local or locally-connected artists. Featured are: Edmund J. Sawyer, John C. Hayes, Louise Chandler, Jack Beals, and John Morrow. The murals on the wall of the children’s room were created by Jo-Ellen Murray and Mary LaMere.

Aside from local history, the library contains other featured collections. A 1983 bequest by Harry Dundas Mahoney provides resources for the purchase of books pertaining to civil, mechanical, electrical, and construction engineering. A donation of books owned by General Newton Martin Curtis led to a continued emphasis on civil war material.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the area between the library and River Road has been a green space – Library Park – visible through large bay windows and open to the public. The park features a soldiers’ monument and the newly dedicated Markert Memorial Garden, as well as seating and a large gazebo – a frequent site for summer weddings and concerts. Come enjoy the view from your library!

In 1996, Persis Yates Boyesen completed a centennial history of the library (Nulla Vestigia Retrorsum [No Steps Backwards],) which is available for purchase in the foyer. This page (and the library as a whole) owes a large debt to her work.

For a small donation you can get this comprehensive look at the Ogdensburg Public Library’s History.

Our History

It all began with seven books in a footlocker. In 1830, a small chest was kept in the publishing office of John S. Sayward on Exchange Street. It contained the first library of the Bangor Mechanic Association. Members could check out two books at a time their sons or apprentices could check out one. As the collection increased, it was moved to ever-larger reading rooms in several downtown locations.


The Mechanic Association’s Library was not the only one in town, but it was the one that survived. With the 1873 absorption of the Bangor Mercantile Association and its Library by the Mechanic Association, the collections of six libraries had come together in one location and were known as the Bangor Mechanic Association Public Library.


In 1883 the city accepted $100,000 from the estate of the Honorable Samuel F. Hersey. The income from this fund was to be used “for the promotion of education, and the health and good morals of citizens” [of the city]. City Council voted to use the entire sum for the establishment of a public library. The management of the legacy was entrusted to a board of five members known as the Trustees of the Hersey Fund. Its membership consisted of the Mayor, the City Treasurer and three citizens. These Trustees formed an agreement with the Bangor Mechanic Association, under which the Bangor Public Library was organized, using the 20,000 volumes of the Association’s library as a nucleus and $12,000 of the Mechanic Association’s funds and the $100,000 Hersey fund as endowments. The Trustees of the Hersey Fund and the four officers chosen annually by the Bangor Mechanic Association, constituted the Board of Managers of the Bangor Public Library. The Board is essentially the same today, except, under the reorganization of the city to a City Manager form of government, the Mayor no longer served as an ex officio member of the Trustees.

In 1905, the Library, which had previously exacted a small fee from its users, became entirely free. At this time the Library was housed in rented quarters in the business district. In September 1906, a Children’s Room was opened. By 1911 the Library had 70,000 volumes, making it the largest public library in the state. The disastrous fire of April, 1911, swept it all away.

In May 1911, with 29 books saved from the burning building, 1,330 returned by borrowers and 46, which had been at the bindery, the library reopened in two small rooms in the basement of the Court House.

After the fire, Peabody and Stearns, a Boston architectural firm, drew up plans for an educational center in Bangor. The new high school building and the public library would stand side by side in a new public park, with another small park across one street and a new post office and court house across another. The corner stone for the new library was laid June 18, 1912. The building was opened for public use on December 20, 1913.

In 1913, the Library also changed cataloging systems, It began using cards that were typewritten, filed in a “dictionary” catalog, using the Dewey Decimal System.
The library remained essentially the same from 1913 until 1994, except for a 100’ X 30’ X 30’ addition to the back stacks in 1957.

In 1994, the Library added a computer automated circulation system and an on-line, public access catalog. In 1997 the Library completed a renovation of the building, including a spacious addition designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects.

The Library continues to be an active part of the Bangor community. An average of 1,448 books and other materials are “checked out” of the Library everyday. The Library serves as a community center, offering meeting space, programs for adults and children, and monthly exhibits of art and artifacts, while fulfilling its historical purpose “to preserve and disseminate knowledge and thoughts. to provide recreation through print and to provide a maximum of assistance to its clients in the use of its collections….[the Library] aims to provide material on all subjects likely to be of concern or interest either to present or potential users of whatever age or education.”


Cite this exhibition

Brady, Hillary, and Franky Abbott. A History of US Public Libraries . Digital Public Library of America. September 2015. https://dp.la/exhibitions/history-us-public-libraries .

Note: These citations are programmatically generated and may be incomplete.

For many Americans, their fondest memories revolve around a library card. From searching through the stacks, to getting a return date stamped on the back of a new favorite book, libraries are a quintessential part of how Americans learn and engage with their local communities. Since this country’s founding, public libraries have received broad and consistent popular support for their democratic missions and services. The ability to access free information has become a core ideal of what it means to be an American citizen, despite periods of historic inequality. Libraries help make this access possible by placing public benefit at the center of their work and continually adapting their strategies to meet changing public needs over time.

This exhibition tells the story of the American public library system, its community impact, and the librarians who made it possible—from the founding of the first US libraries through the first one hundred years of service.

Credit: This exhibition was created as part of the DPLA’s Public Library Partnerships Project in collaboration with partners and participants from Digital Commonwealth, Digital Library of Georgia, Minnesota Digital Library, Montana Memory Project, and Mountain West Digital Library. Exhibition organizers: Hillary Brady and Franky Abbott.


How did public libraries get started?

Dear Straight Dope:

I googled the hell out of this and the best resources I could find (Wikipedia, etc.) could only tell me about the origin of libraries in general, back in ancient times, or the beginnings of specific libraries in America. Call it nerdy curiosity if you want, but I am kind of young (25) and so do not know a time before public lending libraries. They have been all over the place in the different states I have lived. They let you borrow and read all sorts of books — for free! Call me crazy but I started wondering, how did the public libraries as we know them today come about? Some bibliophile President or First Lady in the 1950s decided it was important and got the ball rolling or something? And how do they stay around? Even if the books are donated, the staff are volunteers, and taxes pay for necessities, that still doesn't cover the property and building itself, let alone new books and computer systems. Don't tell me it's all late fees!

dgibson

Questions like this can make a guy feel really old. I assure you that public libraries as we know them today considerably predate the 1950s. In fact, they date back to the nineteenth century — in other words, almost to the dawn of time.

You may already have run across this while googling ancient history, but I’ll tell you anyway: A man named Amit Anu had the title “Tabl Keeper” at the royal library at Ur in roughly 2000 BC. He was the earliest known librarian. No word if he was the first to tell unruly sixth-graders to shush.

The first order of business is to define “public library.” Presumably we mean a library that:

  1. Is publicly owned and supported by taxes
  2. Is open to any citizen who desires to use it, and
  3. Contains a wide range of material, both popular and scholarly.

In that sense, public libraries didn’t arise in Europe until the late 19th or even early 20th century. However, this article will focus on the U.S., since that’s where you encountered public libraries. Here public libraries didn’t just suddenly happen, they evolved over time.

Let’s start with a little scene-setting. Small private libraries existed in America from early colonial times. Ministers and doctors, for instance, usually had small private collections, as did churches and colleges, ranging from a few dozen volumes to a few hundred. In the 1700s, many of these church collections were available to the public (well, to their parishioners, anyhow), but there was usually no system for preserving or maintaining them, and they just wasted away over the years.

Colleges and universities had private libraries as early as 1638, when the Reverend John Harvard bequeathed a recently-founded college around 280 books and an endowment. The school adopted his name and went on to build a fair reputation for itself. At the time, books symbolized wealth: scholars and colleges often measured their affluence based on the size of their book collections.

The typical college library was small, usually fewer than 25,000 donated volumes. There was no formal support from the administration. Some unlucky faculty member was appointed to supervise the library, in addition to his regular duties. Generally it was a job he didn’t want, since it carried no additional compensation. Books were only available to students during limited times — say, a few hours a day or even a week. If there was any logic to how the books were organized, it was something a local person had patched together.

Three trends led to our present public library system.

1 – Social Libraries

The first trend is the so-called “social library,” invented by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin had a significant private library of his own — he had over 4,000 books at the time of his death in 1790. In 1731, he initiated a “subscription library” as a way of sharing books among members of a literary society. It was incorporated in 1742 as the Library Company of Philadelphia, the first established in the U.S. You could join the library by buying stock in the company. Books were only available to members. We’re not sure what role Franklin had in this venture his own writings are boastful and probably overstate his contribution. However, he was certainly influential in getting the idea rolling.

Once the idea took hold, social libraries became very popular. Basically, these were book collections shared among specific users. Formats, membership requirements, and structures varied considerably. Most charged a fee for membership and usually required members to own stock, generally around $5 per share. Some allowed guests to subscribe for a fixed term for a fee. Some were focused on a particular subject, usually something scholarly and important.

One variant on the social library was the Athenaeum. The first was founded in Boston in 1807 and focused on scholarly magazines and newspapers. Members were from the richest and highest class of society. An Athenaeum was basically a gentlemen’s social club (women were seldom allowed in the early days) with a collection of reading material. The cost was high, around $300 for a share of stock, to keep out the riff-raff. The Boston Athenaeum was the first one to employ women, beginning in 1857.

Another variant on the social library was the mercantile library, aimed at middle class young men, “to promote orderly and virtuous habits, diffuse knowledge and the desire for knowledge, improve the scientific skill” and create good citizens. Mercantile libraries were usually funded by contributions from the benevolent rich, to help educate the masses (usually their employees, such as factory workers or mercantile clerks). They were fueled by the American Dream (1800s style) that anyone could succeed if given the right knowledge.

Social libraries were a significant achievement, but they were never financially secure. There wasn’t a large stock-buying public, so the libraries were typically funded by contributions from the wealthy and powerful. In prosperous times, the libraries expanded their collections, increased staff, and extended hours. In hard economic times, contributions dried up, and social libraries often were dissolved.

2 – Circulating libraries

The second trend was the “circulating” library, which also developed in the late 1700s. These were often housed in bookstores or print shops, and rented out books. They offered popular materials such as the latest fiction, including that 18th century innovation, (gasp!) novels. What was probably the first circulating library was opened by William Rind of Annapolis, Maryland, in 1762. It only lasted two years, but the idea caught on.

3 – School district libraries

School districts were expected to have books available for their students. There was no system, of course it was all haphazard, and what got donated usually was none too interesting. Plus, the schools couldn’t afford maintenance or upkeep. Horace Mann, secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, pushed for school libraries in the 1830s, raising a basic question: After we educate our children, what do they have to read? Educators and eventually legislators looked to the school district library (funded through taxes) to provide reading for adults as well as children.

Putting the three trends together

The three types of libraries (social, circulating, and school district) all contributed to the evolution of public libraries. From social libraries, we get the concept of sharing books and focusing on quality. Circulating libraries introduced the inclusion of popular materials, and school district libraries gave us the idea of public funding.

The first library to combine those three principles was the town library of Peterborough, New Hampshire, founded in 1833. It was mainly an accident. New Hampshire had collected taxes to start a state college, but the effort fizzled and the money was allocated among various towns to support education. Peterborough decided to use some of the money to purchase books for a town library — a publicly owned institution, free to all residents. The idea apparently proved popular in 1849, New Hampshire became the first state to pass a law permitting local taxes to support public libraries.

The Boston Public Library opened in 1854, and is usually considered the “real” first public library — that is, intentionally founded, not a happy accident. Its statement of purpose basically says:

  • There’s a close linkage between knowledge and right thinking
  • The future of democracy is contingent on an educated citizenry
  • There’s a strong correlation between the public library movement and public education and
  • Every citizen has the right of free access to community-owned resources.

The growth of the public library

In 1876, the U.S. centennial year, the American Library Association held a conference in Philadelphia. Roughly one hundred librarians (including 13 women) gathered “for the purpose of promoting the library interests of the country.” Topics at the meeting included what sort of readers to allow into the libraries and what sort of books they should be permitted to use. This was all new. In the past, collections were pretty well defined, as were the members/readers. But with cheap paper and mass production, new books were being published at unprecedented rates, and librarians wanted to provide guidance to the masses on appropriate reading.

The youngest member present at the 1876 meeting was Melvil Dewey (1851-1931) — no doubt his last name rings a bell. Dewey had a profound impact on the development of libraries. Under the slogan “the best reading for the largest number at the least cost,” he was elected president of the ALA in 1890 and began to standardize libraries, in the process largely inventing the look and feel of the modern library. Nearly every aspect of today’s library stems from Dewey’s obsession with standardization and efficiency, from how to classify subject matter to the size and margins of library cards. Any visitor to any library organized according to Dewey’s methods could find his/her way around without difficulty. Familiar practices initiated by Dewey include:

  • The Dewey Decimal Classification system, a standardized method of cataloging, filing, and placing books on shelves to make them accessible
  • Long open hours
  • A reference department
  • A cataloging department
  • An author-title card catalog and a subject card catalog
  • Arranging books on shelves based on their classification numbers
  • Overdue fines
  • Circulation records, based on slips and classification numbers.

From 1890 through 1914, public libraries expanded rapidly in number, collection size, and staff. The role of women grew substantially by 1878, two-thirds of library workers at the Boston Public Library were female. (Aside: the use of female staff was not done to advance women’s rights, but to subordinate female librarians to male professors and other experts.) Free public libraries were established in cities such as Los Angeles (1889), New York (1895), New Orleans (1896), and Brooklyn (1897). They often absorbed smaller social libraries.

One of the prime movers behind the expansion of public libraries during this period was the Scottish-born industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1911), one of the famous “robber barons” of the last decades of the 1800s. Early libraries had catered chiefly to scholars and the upper classes. They were only open during the day, when the working classes were working, and many imposed age restrictions on use. How dreadful if the proles were allowed in — they’d mistreat the books, destroy the collections, and cause chaos!

Carnegie, however, thought libraries and books should be available to everyone. Interestingly, he was attacked by both the right, which called him a Communist for wanting to use taxes for libraries, and the left, which viewed taxes as a drain on the working man. By 1920, the Carnegie estate had donated $50 million to erect 2,500 library buildings, including 1,700 in the U.S. — by far the most sustained and widespread philanthropic enterprise ever devoted to libraries. Carnegie’s donations got libraries started in small towns, not just big cities, throughout America. Some communities refused Carnegie’s money because it was tainted, but basically we can thank Carnegie for the modern U.S. public library system.

Libraries also were growing in scope. Reference departments were standard by 1900, as were open shelves (despite librarians’ fears about misplacement of materials and extra wear and tear on the books). A system of interlibrary loans to meet the special needs of scholars and students was established.

The first children’s libraries were founded in the 1890s. As late as 1894, 70% of libraries still had age restrictions, but by 1908, circulation of materials to children accounted for around one-third of total library lending.

The library was also a haven for the waves of immigrants arriving after 1890 and, equally importantly, for their children. Storytelling was used to socialize immigrants and teach the customs and expectations of U.S. society. Libraries came to resemble community centers, waging a war for “Americanization.” By the 1920s the term “adult education” had entered the library vocabulary.

Financial support was curtailed during the Depression, but the demand for services grew. The library reading room was a place to go — it was warm, there was no charge, and it provided activities. Libraries were faced with the need to expand services while facing curtailed budgets, and so were forced to consider changes in storage, acquisition, circulation, and other aspects of their operations.

During the run-up to WWII, Americans were appalled by newsreel footage of Nazi soldiers burning books. In reaction they embraced librarie — if the fascists were against them, there must be something good about them. President Franklin Roosevelt issued a proclamation late in 1941 supporting libraries as “essential to the functioning of a democratic society” and “the great tools of scholarship, the great repositories of culture, and the great symbols of the freedom of the mind.” After the war, the Library Services Act was passed in 1956, allowing federal funding for libraries.

Alas, book burning didn’t stop with the Nazis. Totalitarian governments throughout the 20th century not only wanted to dictate what people read but also what they couldn’t read. A few examples: When China invaded Tibet, the Chinese army burned hundreds of thousands of books from the monasteries. The Cultural Revolution in China (around 1967) saw the wholesale destruction of books containing unacceptable ideas. The Taliban burned over 50,000 books in northern Afghanistan when they came to power. As recently as 1992, Serbian nationalists opened fire on the Bosnian library in Sarajevo and killed firefighters who came to rescue the books — all part of the campaign against Bosnian culture. The list, sadly, goes on.

Those who fear free thought and public access to ideas don’t always do something dramatic like burning books sometimes they confine themselves to restricting availability. In the 1940s, around 90% of libraries in the South were closed to blacks. Today, we still hear of efforts by parents’ groups to forbid books such as Catcher in the Rye, the Harry Potter series, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or whatever science texts don’t conform to their world-view.

The public library today

Today there are roughly 9,000 public libraries in the U.S. plus another 8,000 if branch libraries are counted. Most of these (about 60%) are small public libraries serving communities of under 10,000 in population. The demands made on them and their financial support depend heavily on the nature of the population they serve. However, these small public libraries account for under 10% of total budgets, staff, and materials. Most library activity arises from large libraries, serving 100,000 people or more.

The modern library in the computer age is in a state of massive change (that is, crisis.) The question of “What belongs in a library?” is being revisited: What’s worthless and what’s worthy? Libraries must deal with lack of space and lack of funding even as more is being published than ever before. Acquisition cost are skyrocketing, to say nothing of costs for staffing, preserving, and maintaining not just the materials but the building. Computer equipment takes up an increasing percentage of budgets, as do services for special-needs individuals.

As you say, volunteer staff aren’t paid (although there are still some costs involved). However, most library staff is paid expenditures for personnel represent between 50% and 70% of the library’s total budget. Around 20% to 30% of the budget goes for materials, and the remaining 10%-20% for other expenses, such as building maintenance, equipment, etc.

Small public libraries usually have around five full-time staff or equivalent. There’s a range of positions, although the casual visitor may not know the difference:

  • Professional librarians with at least a master’s degree in library science
  • Support staff, including para-professionals, technical specialists, clerks, and library assistants, with educational backgrounds ranging from high school graduate to post-graduate degree
  • Pages, a subset of support staff, who do shelving for low pay, for which reason the positions are often filled by high school students or retirees
  • Volunteers, who assist overworked staff, provide special expertise, and generally save money. There are still costs involved: Volunteers need training, among other things nowadays in Internet and computer usage, which can take an enormous amount of time and energy. Plus, as most charitable organizations can attest, volunteers are often unreliable. Moreover, many professional librarians fear that reliance on volunteers will give government an excuse to cut budgets even more drastically.

Libraries are constantly faced with the problem of trying to do a lot with limited funding. Usually, the library has a board of trustees (sometimes publicly elected) who have legal responsibility for operating or funding the library. Day-to-day administration is in the hands of a professional library director who in larger libraries may be assisted by a treasurer, assistant or associate directors, and heads of administrative departments such as personnel, information systems, etc.

Around 85% of library funding comes from taxes — federal, state, and local. The rationale behind government involvement is that libraries serve the public good. State law determines the autonomy and taxing power of local public libraries. Typically the law sets a ceiling on taxes higher levels require a referendum.

Most local funds for libraries come from property taxes, the same as for the police, schools, and courts. Local taxes can vary widely among communities. Some inner-city and rural libraries just don’t have the tax base to support an adequate library, and so must rely on state or national funds. The majority of states have grant programs, often begun in the 1930s, to help support local libraries. Generally, state formulas for funds distribution are based on geography and per-capita income in order to help poorer districts. In return, most states impose eligibility requirements regarding hours of operation, trained personnel, etc.

Federal funds are available to local libraries through grant programs such as those administered by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), although budget cuts in the last decade or so have significantly reduced this source of income. According to Gertzog and Beckerman, “Most library planners regard a mix of 50% local, 30% state, and 20% federal as an ideal support distribution for public libraries. Normative figures reveal that the spread is closer to 85-95% local, 5-10% state, and less than 5% (indirect) federal.” That was in 1994 in 2002, federal funding was less than 1% of library operating income.

In addition to public money, some private sources of funding are available. Most libraries seek private-sector donations from both corporations and individuals, including endowments, gifts, and grants. In addition, libraries commonly impose small fees for services such as Internet access, photocopying, DVD rentals, etc. The basic loan of materials or the provision of information, however, is never charged for. Well, hardly ever — some libraries impose borrowing fees on non-residents. Fines for overdue materials are seldom an important revenue source.

By the way, donations needn’t be financial. Many libraries will accept DVDs, CDs, videos, books, etc. For example, my own local library accepts all in-kind contributions happily a committee sorts out what they want to keep, and the remainder is sent to specialty libraries, e.g., in veterans’ center, prisons, special-needs schools, etc. Many libraries also have fund-raising sales of material that is no longer needed — for instance, a library may order multiple copies of a best-seller, but then a year or two later need only one or two copies on the shelf. So we end with a suggestion: Next time you’re looking for a present for someone who has everything, make a contribution on their behalf to your local library.

Administration of the Public Library, Alice Gertzog and Edwin Beckerman, 1994

Library: An Unquiet History, Matthew Battles, 2003

History of Libraries in the Western World, by Michael H. Harris, 1995

Foundations of Library and Information Science, by Richard E. Rubin, 2004.

SDStaff Dex, Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Send questions to Cecil via [email protected]

STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.


History of the Public Library Association

The formation of the "Division of Public Libraries" of the American Library Association was approved by ALA Council on Oct. 13, 1944, following petitions signed by nearly 1,200 members (ALA Handbook, December 1, 1944 and ALA Bulletin, September, 1945).

75th Anniversary

Beginning in 2019 through the PLA 2020 Conference, PLA recognized its milestone 75th anniversary by reflecting on its storied history, celebrating its achievements, honoring the people who have contributed to its success, and garnering financial support for what comes next. Please visit the PLA 75th Anniversary website to learn more.


Accessibility of Books

The books passed to an Adelaide Mechanics’ Institute (1838–42), the South Australian Subscription Library (1842–48) and the South Australian Library and Mechanics’ Institute (1848–56). This last was a strange marriage in which the exclusive South Australian Subscription Library whose 120 elected members paid 21 shillings a year in advance, amalgamated on the latter’s terms with a newly formed Adelaide Mechanics’ Institute with 400 members and open to anyone prepared to pay five shillings a quarter. Between them they had some 2000 books. Reliance on user-pays voluntaryism was close to the colony’s founding principles, but barred most colonists from membership.

The South Australian Library and Mechanics’ Institute sought economic stability by proposing regular government funding in return for making its books publicly available. Aware that a British Act of 1850 had potentially made libraries freely accessible to all, and that Victoria had established a magnificent reference library, the South Australian parliament legislated to form and subsidise the South Australian Institute (SAI, 1856–84) and built premises on North Terrace on condition that the public was granted access to the subscribers’ collection for reference purposes only.

When government subsidies to local institutes were introduced their numbers grew steadily. In return institutes were expected to have libraries, offer membership to all prepared to subscribe, and open their reading-rooms to the public for some hours each week. The hybrid system thus born was to last for over a century.

To make books available beyond its walls, particularly to remote parts of the colony, in 1859 the SAI began an Australia-first system of circulating book boxes of non-fiction, which became in geographical terms the largest and most comprehensive in the world. In 1900, 6051 volumes were included in the distribution system, which lasted until dissolution of the institutes in the 1980s.


Hurricane Season is Here!

“Hurricane season brings a humbling reminder that, despite our technologies, most of nature remains unpredictable." – Diane Ackerman.

Virtual Sensory Story Time

People of all abilities are encouraged to participate in this inclusive story time experience through stories, songs and sensory-focused activities. Once registered, Virtual Sensory Story Time Kits can be picked up at each of our branches starting Mon, Apr 26. Call the branch's children's department for kit availability. While supplies last. All ages.

LAMP Pass

The exploration of our Palm Beach County Museums continues: Summer of 2021! Light up your child's world with a FREE Library Adventure Museum Pass!

Read, Watch, Listen

Looking for fresh books, movies, or music? Tune in for a variety of voices showcasing their latest discoveries and stumble upon some new favorites of your own.

BookSquad

Looking for your next great read? Our BookSquad is here to help! Complete our online form and we will email you a personalized list of suggested titles.


Memorial Room at Main Library

In 1928, Oliver G. Jennings, President of the Fairfield Memorial Library, commissioned Norman M. Isham of the Rhode Island School of Design to create a special room in the Library celebrating the contributions of the town’s earliest settlers and citizens to American history. As part of the project, the large meeting room on the 2nd floor of the Library, measuring approximately 28X37 feet, was paneled in wood up to its arched ceiling.

Artist Sydney R. Burleigh of Rhode Island was chosen by Mr. Isham to execute 21 commemorative panels in the new Memorial Room. The two largest panels on the north and south walls are old style maps of early Fairfield. The map on the north wall above the fireplace measures about 4 x 8 feet and shows the town of Fairfield at its founding in 1639. Fairfield’s original boundaries incorporated what is now Easton, Weston, Redding, Westport, and part of Bridgeport. Along the sides of the map are the coats of arms of Roger Ludlow, who purchased Fairfield from the Paugussett Indians, and those of the earliest settlers.

The panel on the south wall measures about 4 x 10 feet. It illustrates the “Compact Part of the Town of Fairfield,” also known as the “four squares.” The original center of Fairfield is the present site of the Town Hall Green. The map depicts the old town with its gateways, houses and gardens as it appeared 13 years after its settlement in 1652.

Two smaller map panels in the Memorial Room recall Fairfield’s participation in the French and Indian Wars. On the east wall, a map commemorates the capture of the French fortress of Louisburg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia by New England troops in 1745. On the west wall, another map shows the capture of the city of Quebec by the English in 1759.

The remaining panels bear the names of Fairfield residents, lettered in gold, who figured in the town’s military and civil history. They include officers who served in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, as well as those who died in the Civil War and the first World War. The names of Fairfield’s earliest judges, the planters from Concord, deputies to the General Court, sheriffs, colonial Lieutenant Governors, physicians, the Ministers of the Prime Ancient Society (now the First Church Congregational), and the Rectors of Trinity Church are also displayed.


Internet Access Initiative


8. The House of Wisdom

Portrait of Razi polymath, physician and alchemist in his laboratory in Bagdad, Iraq. (Credit: Leemage/Getty Images)

The Iraqi city of Baghdad was once one of the world’s centers of learning and culture, and perhaps no institution was more integral to its development that the House of Wisdom. First established in the early ninth century A.D. during the reign of the Abbasids, the site was centered around an enormous library stocked with Persian, Indian and Greek manuscripts on mathematics, astronomy, science, medicine and philosophy. The books served as a natural draw for the Middle East’s top scholars, who flocked to the House of Wisdom to study its texts and translate them into Arabic. Their ranks included the mathematician al-Khawarizmi, one of the fathers of algebra, as well as the polymath thinker al-Kindi, often called “the Philosopher of the Arabs.” The House of Wisdom stood as the Islamic world’s intellectual nerve center for several hundred years, but it later met a grisly end in 1258, when the Mongols sacked Baghdad. According to legend, so many books were tossed into the River Tigris that its waters turned black from ink.

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Watch the video: Σύνολο Πνευστών Φιλαρμονικής Κορακιάνας, Valse Σπύρου Σαμάρα, Δημόσια Βιβλιοθήκη 6 Δεκεμβρίου 2017 (December 2021).