Here we offer a brief history of the Townsend Library:
In 1858, 100 people gave $3.00 each to start a Townsend Library. Agricultural (farming) books were bought for this private library.
In 1873, the town took over running the library. The town taxed subscribers to the library to help stock the library collection. In 1882, taxing was stopped and it became a truly “free” and public library. It wasn’t until 1914 that everyone was able to use the library books. For many years the books were kept in people’s homes, stores, and even in the Squannacook Fire House No. 1.
In 1894, a library room was made in the new Memorial Hall.
From 1910 to 1930, folks could find the library materials at both the West Townsend Reading Room and A.C. Josselyn’s store in Townsend Harbor. The Reading Room was opened in 1910 by Mrs. Charles Homer, and left to the town following her death in 1937.
Two large gifts, given to the town from Charles B. Hart and Amanda E. Dwight, made it possible to build the Hart Library. On February 27, 1929, the books were moved from Memorial Hall to the Hart Library in a book relay.
On March 2, 1929, the Hart Free Library opened its doors! The official Dedication wasn’t until October 13, 1929. Originally the library was upstairs in the Walter Fessenden Memorial Room, until the children’s section was moved downstairs for more space. The Children’s Room was dedicated on April 20, 1969.
In 2007, the Sterilite Corporation and its employees gave our town a generous gift that included a new Highway Department Facility, Senior Center, Community Meeting Room, and Library. The Townsend Public Library is now located on Dudley Road, where the highway department building was previously located.
The official Dedication and Grand Opening of the new Townsend Public Library was held on October 31, 2009. The new library is dedicated in honor of Richard & Irene Collette because of how much they have done for our town.