Brookline Public Library, Brookline, Massachusetts

1879-1880 Brookline Public Library Card No. 3373 issued to Miss Anna White

1879-1880 Brookline Public Library Card No. 3373 issued to Miss Anna White (front)
1879-1880 Brookline Public Library Card No. 3373 issued to Miss Anna White (back)

Brookline Public Library

The Brookline Public Library was born out of an inconvenience to Benjamin F. Baker, one of the first trustees of the Board of Trustees of Brookline. Baker contemplated and investigated the idea of a public library as early as 1847. Although any formal action to establish a public library wasn’t until 1856 upon a failed attempt to consult an unowned reference book[1].

After gathering support for his public library proposal from prominent Brookline citizens, Baker succeeded in having Articles 7 and 8 inserted into the “warrant” (agenda of items) for the annual town meeting held on March 16, 1857:

From the 1893 Annual Report of the Trustees of the Public Library of the Town of Brookline

The articles were accepted at the following town meeting held on March 30, 1857, and on December 2, 1857, Brookline’s public library was opened to the public.

The first home of the Brookline Public Library was a 36 1/2 x 29 foot room in the Brookline Town Hall. The modest space was fitted with shelves on two walls, and equipped with a desk for delivery of borrowed books. The first librarian, John E. Hoar, served 17 years, resigning on September 19, 1871, when his duties as school principal became too demanding.

Brookline Town Hall c. 1920.  Photograph by Leon H. Abdalia (1884-1967). Source: Boston Public Library. (public domain)

New Library Building

Although additional rooms were provided for the Town Hall library, by 1861, the library inventory had increased to 11,000 volumes, necessitating the need for an even larger space. In 1867, the town trustees approved the building of a new library, and on October 9, 1869, the new library building opened to the public.

Original Brookline Public Library, built in 1869.. From the Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, by the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, 1891. (public domain)
Interior of 1869 Library. Credit: Digital Commonwealth, Massachusetts Collection Online, Brookline Photograph Collection, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode

1889 Expansion

In 1888, at a cost of $16,500, an additional wing was added to the library building, as well as a reading-room in 1891. This additional provided space for 75,000 volumes.

Brookline Public Library after the 1889 expansion. From the Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, by the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, 1891. (public domain)

Continued Growth

sxxxxxxxxx

Boston Evening Transcript, Boston, Massachusetts, August 15, 1906, page 17
Boston Evening Transcript, Boston, Massachusetts, April 22, 1908, Page 21

Another New Building

Boston Evening Transcript, Boston, Massachusetts, June 3, 1909, page 3
The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, July 18, 1910, page 2

A growing community necessitated yet another library expansion. In 1907, the library Trustees In June 1909, R. Clipston Sturgis Cornerstone was laid November 1, 1909

361 Washington Street
The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, September 10, 1910, page 15
The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, September 10, 1910, page 15

Brookline Public Library In the News

Boston Evening Transcript, May 5, 1909, Page 25
The Hartford Daily Courant, December 25, 1911, Page 8

Miss Anna White

Anna Catherine White, born October 27, 1864, was the daughter of the co-founding namesake of the R. H. White & Co. department store in Boston, Massachusetts, Ralph Huntington White (1841-1917).

Died January 7, 1895 in Aiken, South Caroline. She is buried next to her father’s museleum at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

R. H. White & Co.

Advertisement from The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, December 31, 1926, page 12

[1] 1893 Annual Report of the Trustees of the Public Library of the Town of Brookline, pp. 7-12

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s