The architectural history of the Newburyport Public Library building spans three centuries: the Tracey Mansion, (1771), the Simpson Annex,(1881), and the Molin Wing, (2001). Several citizens calling themselves the Newburyport Library Association, established a circulation library in 1794. However, the idea of a free public library was created by Josiah Little, Charles Jackson, and Samuel Swett in September 1854. These gentlemen began the library in Ward Room 4 of the new city hall.
The collection began with over 5,000 books. At first, the operational budget depended on the generosity of private citizens as well as with fees paid by benefactors and the city. Additionally, Little personally contributed $5,000.00. Following Little, Jackson and Swett followed suit contributing additional money and books. Due to the successful operationation that was created, in November 1854, the mayor ordered the foundation of the, “Public Library of the City of Newburyport,” and the City Council approved this ordinance. As a result, the Newburyport Public Library officially began in November 1855. By 1865, the library had become so large and popular that benefactors began looking for a new location.
When the Tracey Mansion on State Street went up for sale, it was enthusiastically purchased as the new home for the library. The building then needed to be modified and redesigned both internally and externally. Arthur Gilman, a Newburyport native turned Boston resident, revamped the building at no charge. Gilman placed a time capsule in the cornerstone of the building stating that the building was a, “free gift to the city”. The date was April 6, 1865.
On September 4, 1865 the final deed of conveyance specified among other conditions that this building was to be used exclusively for the city library, and that it, “shall not be open for public use on the Lord’s Day." The Board of Alderman accepted the gift by vote and the appropriate ordinance was passed. In 1870, the first public newspaper reading room was established by the Newburyport Public Library. Then in 1881, a new two-story addition, known as the Simpson Annex was built. simultaneously, renovations were also made in the Victorian Style to the exterior and portions of the interior.
In 1900 , the stacks were opened allowing patrons to browse and receive books independently. The 1920's brought creation of a separate reference department and a children's room. Then in 1939, the foundation of, "The Friends of the Newburyport Public Library ". This organization is still a very important benefactor of the library. By 1985, public computers had been introduced and it became a member of the Merrimack Valley Consortium (MVLC), a network of 35 other area libraries. Through resource sharing Newburyport library card holders have access to over 3 million items today. In October 1999 the library was moved to a temporary location , the Anvil Rock Farm in the industrial park, while the library underwent construction .
This newly expanded and renovated faculty re-opened in May 2001 and is known as the Edward G. Molin Wing. As of September 2010 the library had a circulation of approximately 102,000 books and served about 19,750 Newburyport residents.
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newburyport_Public_Library http://www.wickedlocal.com/newburyport/fun/entertainment/books/x390633361/Speaking-Volumes-A-Prince-of-a-man www.wickedlocal.com/newburyport/news/education/x1059361014 http://www.newburyportpl.org/index