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[p. 86]

In 1876 a branch delivery was established at West Medford, 1886 at Glenwood, 1890 at Wellington.

The first law passed in Massachusetts, in 185, authorizing any town to establish and maintain a free public library, was due to the action of one of the smaller towns in the State. In 1847 President Wayland of Brown University offered to give $500 to the town of Wayland for a library, provided the town would contribute an equal amount. This the citizens in town meeting assembled pledged themselves to do. But the question came up as to whether the citizens in their municipal capacity had a right to do this or to compel the taxpayers to devote their money to the buying of books and the support of a town library. It was finally decided that it should be optional with the individual citizens to pay the required tax, and with this understanding the library was opened to the public in August, 1850.

In 1851 the Rev. John B. Wight, Wayland's Representative in the Legislature, introduced a bill authorizing any town to establish and maintain for its citizens a public library. This bill became a law in May, 1851. This law, which was restrictive as to the amount of money the town might raise for the support of its public library, was followed by similar ones of a more liberal tendency, until in 1866 a law was passed removing the restrictions as to money and permitting the towns to appropriate what they saw fit for the support of their libraries. Thenceforward the laws passed tended to foster and protect the public library by imposing fines for those persons who wilfully defaced or destroyed the books or other property of libraries; and one very important law was enacted, and is still in force, of which very few people probably are aware, or the librarian would not so often be obliged to act the part of police-officer and prohibit the use of the library to certain disturbers of the peace. This law reads: ‘Whoever wilfully disturbs persons assembled in a public library, or readingroom connected therewith, by making a noise, or in ’

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