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Library History


Ten years after the town’s founding, the Maynard Public Library first opened its doors on April 4th, 1881. The library was funded by an appropriation of $1,000, raised by Joseph and Mary Reed, and was located in a vacant school room in the Acton Street School, about where Jarmo’s Auto Repair is now located. Subsequent annual budgets averaged around $500, mostly for books and the library was only open on Saturday evenings. Under the supervision of an elected three-person Board of Trustees, the Reeds purchased the first books, made a catalog of them, and together watched over the library for the first two years. John Vose was appointed librarian in 1883 and in the following year, the library was opened for two evenings a week. At this time, the privilege of taking library brooks was limited to people twelve years of age or older. 

The number of books added steadily increased so that a few years later it was found necessary to move to a large place. In 1885, the decision was made to move the library to the Riverside Co-Operative Building on the corner of Nason and Summer Streets, where it would remain for 33 years.  Sarah Nyman was appointed Head Librarian in 1885 and held that position with the town for 41 years.

In July of 1918, the library was moved to the second floor of the Naylor Building on Nason Street. According to Sarah Nyman, who was librarian for 41 years, the location was not an ideal one. In addition to being on the second floor, up a long flight of stairs, it had a number of other drawbacks. As Mrs. Nyman wrote in the late 1920’s:

    “Trustees, I want to bring up this subject. I think we should do something to make this room more attractive to the young. It needs to be whitened overhead for one thing and more light in the Children’s Room. A lady suggested to me why we didn’t build a building on the lower part of the Park big enough to make offices up on the upper floor, get the rent for them as well as to pay others… we pay for rent now $7.20 which would pay so much at Co-Operative Bank and we would need heat for only 5 months and that is more than we get here. The Sudbury building cost $4,000. I think with the dog tax appropriation and small help that we ought to get busy doing something.”

At the Annual Town Meeting of March 7, 1960, Maynard residents voted to establish a committee for the construction of a new combined Town Building and Library on town-owned land on Main Street. There was evidently some debate over whether to include the library in the building project, but luckily some strong advocates spoke up on the library’s behalf, and they carried the day as $329,000 was approved to construct the combined facility.

Moving the books from the Naylor Building to the new building proved to be a challenge. According to Librarian Edith Carbone, “The Finance Committee did not allow much money, so professional movers handled just the furniture and stacks. The books? Lots of liquor cartons, staff filling them at one end and high school students carrying them to my station wagon, then on to the new building where more volunteers placed them on the shelves. Over 10,000 books were moved this way and I think they have been moving ever since.”

In 1973 a new librarian, Pearl W. Sprigg, was hired, and she began work on the expansion of the library from a single room on the top floor of the Town Building. The facility was converted to two stories by the allocation of an additional medium-sized room, which was located directly below the existing library. Space was rearranged so that fiction, both children’s and adult, was located downstairs, along with a children’s story area and a small meeting area. Reference materials and non-fiction were placed upstairs along with a public access computer, study area, and periodicals section. 

In 1983 there was a severe threat of funding cuts as the library budget was decreased by $4,000, showing the first warning signs of the impact of Proposition 2 ½. The 1984 Town Report mentions signs of stress including staff illness leading to overworked staff, low morale in response to funding cuts, limited resources, and crowded space. 

By 1985, the Maynard Public Library became a member of the Eastern Massachusetts Regional Library System and was preparing to join the Wellesley Sub-Regional Library System Catalog database. This movement toward becoming part of a computerized regional system would later culminate in the library joining the Minuteman Library Network in 1995. 

After nearly forty years, the demands for library services and collections called for a much larger facility than could be provided at the Main Street building. Other locations were considered such as the Coolidge School, but ultimately the decision was made to use the former Roosevelt School building located at 77 Nason Street. The site was originally home to the Nason Street High School and was constructed in 1892 before being destroyed by fire in 1916. The Roosevelt Elementary School was opened in 1918, built on the 1892 stone foundation. The Roosevelt School existed from 1918 through its closure in 1988. The building then stood empty, deteriorating, until a combination of state grant, town tax funding, and private donations - the last accomplished by efforts of the Friends of the Maynard Public Library - combined to total the $5.7 million needed for this project. Middlesex Savings Bank was a major contributor with a gift of $100,000. 

The plan from the architectural firm Lerner, Ladds, and Bartels was to retain the entrances and brick walls of the school building, but construct an entirely new structure within the exterior shell. The result was a three story, 24,000 square foot building with an open core and stairwell, naturally lit from above via skylight. 
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners awarded the Board of Trustees of the Maynard Public Library a state library construction grant of $2.1 million and in May 2003, Maynard voters approved a debt-exclusion measure to allow borrowing of up to the remaining $3.6 million. The Friends conducted an ambitious capital campaign to help defray the cost to taxpayers. Over $500,000 in pledges and contributions were collected. Maynard's new library opened on July 17, 2006 with a parade from the old location to Nason Street with a ribbon cutting. On September 16, 2006 a formal dedication was held and included speeches from local dignitaries and music from a local band. 

In January 2020, Steve Weiner retired as Director of the Maynard Public Library after 26 years of leadership. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jean Maguire was hired as the new Director. She came to Maynard after having worked at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston for 21 years, the last eight as director. During the pandemic, library staff worked hard to provide services to the public including a very busy daily curbside pickup and a weekly outdoor browsing “market” in the library parking lot with many tables and carts full of items for checkout.

Two projects that were granted funding from the Community Preservation Act and facilitated by volunteers have preserved and restored objects of town significance are now on permanent display on the library's second floor. The Town of Maynard Balanace Scale with accompanying weights, measures, and cabinet was brought to the library in 2013. Every city, town, and county in Massachusetts was provided a set of certified weights and measures, along with a scale and cabinet, to conduct annual in

The project to remove, refurbish, and relocate the Assabet Manufacturing Company curfew bell was completed in 2022. The bell was cast in 1856 by Henry N. Hooper and Company and rang at the mill each evening to remind employees to be home and in bed by 9pm. The bell was moved to the Finnish Evangelical Mission Church in 1935. The church was sold in 2021 to a private resident and the church trustees donated the bell to the town in honor of the sesquicentennial celebration being held that year. After refurbishing the bell was moved to the library's 2nd floor for all residents to see. 


Today the Maynard Public Library is much more than books of course and plays a huge role in the community. The library offers a wide variety of over 300 programs to the public including author talks, technology presentations, informational sessions, cooking groups, children and teen programming, and much more.  It also serves as an exhibition venue and one of the town’s primary meeting spaces, with hundreds of room reservations each year. 


Maynard Public Library Building Locations

YEARS            Library Location

1881-1885       Acton Street School (now Jarmo's Auto Repair site)

1885-1918       Riverside Cooperative Society, Nason Street (now Knights of Columbus site)

1918-1962       2nd floor, Naylor Block, Nason Street (now dentist's office)

1962-2006       Town Building Annex, Main Street (now Maynard Police station

2006-present    former Roosevelt School, Nason Street


Maynard Public Library Timeline


1851 - Massachusetts passes an Act to authorize cities and towns the right to tax occupants $1 per year to create a public library and 25 cents per year in subsequent years for operational expenses. 


1871 - Town of Maynard founded.


1881 - Article 4 of Maynard Town Meeting (March 14). To see what action the Town will take to establish a town library, to do or act as may be thought best. April appropriation was $1,000 plus $161.28 in fees collected from dog tax


1882 - Mary J. Reed appointed as Librarian


1885 - Library open to the public two evenings each week. John H. Vose (school teacher) appointed as Librarian.


1886 - Library moves to the Riverside Co-operative Building at the southwest corner of Nason and Summer Streets. Sarah F. W. Nyman appointed as Librarian.


1910 - Let there be light! The library gets electricity.


1913 - All children under 8th grade excluded from library after 5:30pm. The library also acquired a fan for $22.50


1915 - “Our present accommodations for children are far from adequate for the work we would like to do in this department. A child’s taste in reading, if left to himself, is not after than his taste in food would be.”


1917 - Open 5 evenings per week.


1918 - Moved to Nason Street


1928 - Police sent to collect overdue books.


1931 - The library acquired the dentist’s rooms. State library commissioned remarked that appropriation is far below what a town of this size should have, the circulation is only a fraction per capita below.


1942 - Mary Moynihan retires after 23 years. Olive R. Morgan begins as librarian.


1944 - Library will “no longer buy best sellers.”


1948 - Fluorescent lights and refinished furniture installed. Reference library “as complete as that of any small library in the country.”


1960 - Town votes to build new library in conjunction with municipal building. 


1961 - Overdue fine raised to 2 cents. Olive Morgan dies, was assistant librarian for 23 years and Head Librarian for 19 years.


1962 - New library building dedicated on July 29th. Edith Carbone begins as Head Librarian.

1963 - Library begins to offer a Story Hour.


1968 - Summer Reading program begins.


1970 - Library moves into the lower level for need of space. Adds coin-operated copy machine.


1972 - Edith Carbone retires as Head Librarian. Mobile book visits to seniors at Powder Mill Circle.


1973 - Pearl W. Sprigg hired as Head Librarian.


1974 - Library begins to circulate music cassettes and art prints.


1976 - Lower level renovation complete.


1978 - Pearl W. Sprigg leaves. Kay Weiner begins as Head Librarian. Library open 3 additional mornings so that high school students had a place to go after a fire at the school.


1981 - Library adds museum passes.


1982 - Library staff unionizes.


1985 - Maynard Adult Learning Center begins using the library for classes.


1986 - The library is awarded a grant for a computer terminal. Phone system installed so that staff can talk between floors. 


1987 - The library begins to circulate VHS cassette tapes.


1991 - Possibility of the library closing due to lack of funding.


1993 - Library joins the Minuteman Library Network


1994 - Library Director Elizabeth Drake resigns after 14 years.


1995 - Steve Weiner begins as Library Director.


1998 - Library begins process of acquiring the Roosevelt School from the town.


1999 - Process of designing new library begins.

2000 - First library Read-a-Thon. Funds donated to building project.

2001 - Applied for building award from MBLC. Put on waitlist.

2003 - Awarded $2.1 million from MBLC for new library constutrction. Friends raised $500,000 from local residents and businesses.

2004 - Construction begins on the new library.

2006 - New library opens on July 17, 2006.

2008 - Cartoonist Jeff Kinney and children's author Lois Lowry visit the library.

2012 - Bill Cullen retires from the library Board of Trustees. Served since 1987 and was very active in every phase of the new building project.

2020 - Library closes during COVID-19 pandemic. Curbside pickup and outdoor browsing are offered. Director Steve Weiner retires after 26 years of leadership.

2021 - Jean Maguire begins as Library Director. Overdue fines are eliminated. Library reopens June 1. Library creates and launches first ever logo, representing the distinctive and historic archway through which people enter the building.

2022 - Curfew bell relocated to the library's second floor.

Building Construction Photos

Current Library Photos

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