Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Library is 125 Years Old!

Celebrating 125 years! 1871 - 2006

Although Hampton had a library before 1871, it was a private subscription library. The Hampton Library Association agreed to donate its collection and the Town agreed to establish and maintain the public library of about 900 volumes. Simeon Albert Shaw, the Association’s librarian, became the town’s first librarian, and remained such for the next 50 years! The library was first housed in a room of the town hall and the town appropriation was $100 a year. The library was open Wednesday evenings. In 1908 the town had a chance to have a Carnegie library, but refused to support it at $500 a year, Andrew Carnegie’s condition for giving a free library. Howard Lane stepped forward and offered to build a library as a memorial to his father Joshua A. Lane. That building opened in 1910. In 1911 the Town voted to increase the library budget to $500, which had been considered too high just three years previously. The library was now open every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon and evening. One of Shaw’s grandchildren remembered seeing Great Grammie Shaw fixing S. Albert’s collar and cuffs and sending him off in the buggy to the library. She also remembered that every book that went into the library first came home with him for his approval. It was the “earnest endeavor” of the librarian and trustees “to exclude every book not of a strictly moral tone, or that would be apt to leave a harmful impression on the mind of a youthful reader.” In today’s world, we leave those judgment calls to the individual patron. By 1929 Mr. Shaw remarked that “It is very evident that in the near future the citizens of Hampton will have to consider seriously the problem of providing more room if the library is to continue to grow and meet the needs of the community.” A one-story addition was added in 1957, only 28 years later. By 1975 it was evident that even with the addition, the library was again overcrowded. In 1983, only 8 years later this time, the town voted to remove the 1957 addition and add a two story addition. This new building was completed in 1985. Twenty years later, Simeon Albert Shaw’s great granddaughter, Catherine Redden, the current librarian sees the same need for increased space. The library comes full circle!

Have you been to the library lately? The original building was re-roofed last year and its interior patched and painted last December, thanks to the voters for the 2004 Library Warrant Article. With a fresh coat of paint throughout the library and lots of rearranging of materials, the entire building looks better than it has in years. Just this month the exterior doors and interior foyer doors have been replaced, securing and beautifying the entrance, thanks to the voters for the 2005 Library Warrant Article.


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