Metro   City

Springfield City Library

Thank You! Your rating has been saved.

Springfield Library Company was begun prior to 1796, and a printed catalogue issued on that date shows 320 volumes. Yet this and other libraries like it were not public libraries, but were limited to specific groups of people. The first general law authorizing Massachusetts cities and towns to maintain public libraries was enacted in 1851, and in 1855 Springfield residents signed a petition asking for funding for a library. Due to the cost of the new city hall, funds were not available. In 1857 the City Library Association was formed, and although still privately funded, a room in City Hall was provided for use as a library.
By 1863 private donations and gifts totaled $77,000. After raising $100,000, a red-brick Gothic style building was erected at the corner of State and Chestnut Streets on land donated by George Bliss. In 1885 a city appropriation made it possible for the Library to be free to all.

By 1892 the Library had outgrown the building, and the city appropriated $18,498 for a new library building. A very unusual twist is that in order to be able to provide library service to the community during construction of a new building, Charles R. Trask, one of its original builders, was hired to move the entire library back 200 feet to make room for the new building! Newspapers and magazines were moved to a nearby building, a temporary wooden structure was built to use as the Children's Room for the next two years, and the Christ Church Rectory was moved to the other side of the church. After knocking out the library basement, 12 long steel slides were put under the building to support the walls, which were resting on huge timbers. According to the 1909 Annual Library Report, "each cardholder was allowed to borrow six works of fiction and any reasonable number of other books." Before the actual move over 15,000 books were borrowed just the last five days alone! It was estimated that the building contents weighed three to four thousand tons. Using 1,000 small steel rollers, twelve men working in unison operated turn screws to move the building an average of ten feet per day. In less than three weeks they had moved the building almost 200 feet, and were open for business while construction continued on the new library. In 1905 Andrew Carnegie donated $260,000 to the City Library Association to build a central library and three branch libraries.

Explore Related Categories

Details and Specs

Hours of Operation:
Mon12:00 PM8:00 PM
Tue9:00 AM5:00 PM
Wed12:00 PM8:00 PM
Thr9:00 AM5:00 PM
Sat9:00 AM5:00 PM
Sun12:00 PM5:00 PM
Notes: None Listed


Be the first to add a review for this item.

Please write a review for this item

Send a Message