previous next
[p. 76]

The Evolution of the Medford public Library.

by Mary E. Sargent.
Read before the Medford Historical Society, Jan. 16, 1899.

IN the matter of libraries, as with individuals, we take a pardonable pride in tracing their origin to as remote an ancestry as possible. Obeying the Scriptural injunction, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long upon the land,’ as individuals we may aspire to a right to belong to the Sons or Daughters of the Revolution, the Colonial Dames, or, better still, to be a ‘Mayflower’ descendant; but in the case of libraries we are quite content with a very small and humble beginning.

In many towns the public library was an outgrowth of the district-school library, which by an act of the Legislature of 1837 the school districts were authorized to establish for the use of common schools, provided a certain amount of money should be raised by the town.

In looking through the Town Records I find, Nov. 14, 1842, that it was voted to appropriate the sum of $45 in aid of public-school libraries. In referring to the school records of that period, however, though the school committee took action with regard to the matter, the scheme was abandoned.

The public library, ‘free to all,’ is peculiar to modern civilization, and the circulating library, from which books may be taken for home use, is of comparatively recent date. The idea that books, to be of real benefit, should be put into the hands of people for use outside of the library was first put into practical execution by Benjamin Franklin, who, in 1731, established at Philadelphia the first effective circulating library, now called the ‘Old Philadelphia Library.’ This was what is known as a ‘Society Library,’ supported by subscription, and was the forerunner of the nearly one thousand ‘Social Libraries’ which sprang up so rapidly throughout

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Mary E. Sargent (1)
Jan (1)
Benjamin Franklin (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1899 AD (1)
November 14th, 1842 AD (1)
1837 AD (1)
1731 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: