Bedford Public Library marks 20 years

Yes, Bedford taxpayers your state-of-the-art library, dedicated on June 23, 1996, has turned 20 years old. And, by the way, your original note of $2.2 million is paid and your mortgage is free. According to the town finance director your last bond payment of $112,061 was paid in March. Do you feel relieved?

The current library is constructed on the same site as the original library.

As quoted in historical archives: "In 1910, Mrs. Francis Woodbury gave to the Town an artistic little cottage modeled after the English fashion to be used for the purposes of a Public Library." No heat, electricity or indoor plumbing. On the bright side however, it was a beginning with 1,765 volumes.

The library prospered beyond all expectations, including modern conveniences. In 1966, the trustees decided it was time for a new library and submitted an article to the town meeting. It was defeated. However, in 1967 the town did approve an addition and in later years another.

In the early 1990s, the trustees recognized that the English-style cottage with additions was totally inadequate for its patrons. They presented an article to the town meeting in 1993 to build a new library, and after much discussion a vote was called and the article passed by four votes with an added hook: the trustees had to raise $500,000 to defray fitup before the council would approve the bond issue to start construction.

The challenge was taken up in 1993-94 by a group of dedicated volunteer fundraisers, trustees and eager townspeople to build their new library. They were on a mission to raise the money that many thought couldn’t be done.

By the end of 1994, there was $550,000 in the bank from donations of $2.00 through $50,000. Thus was the beginning of our current state-of-the-art library. Our new library would be a reality.

Construction would start in spring 1995 with an occupancy in June 1996. The $2.7 million building (including fitup) was completed on time and within budget. A testimonial to all the volunteers and fundraisers involved in the project.

On June 23, 1996, it was estimated that 1,000 people attending the grand opening and ribbon cutting of their library with the latest technology available. In the first year circulation soared 33 percent. The 1993 trustees had a great idea and the town got behind them.

"The new library is a people place, the cornerstone of a vibrant growing town", said one trustee.

And such it was and still is today with nearly 10,000 card holders, 71,250 volumes and average daily visits of 375 patrons.

Thanks to five enthusiastic library volunteers, (many left over from the 1996 experience), a new Bedford Library historical wall of museum quality will be added in the lower level in early July. This wall is being made possible by the generosity of a grant from The Henry-Mellor fund.