Whitman’s First Public Library

In 1879, a group of citizens in Whitman, then known as South Abington, lobbied to establish a free public library for the town. At Town Meeting that year, voters approved an appropriation of $500 to establish the library and appointed five citizens to spearhead the project.

The First Library

The first Whitman Public Library consisted of a room in the Village Hall housing 1400 donated books. By 1882 a salaried position of $1000 was created for the town’s first librarian, William Vining. By 1886, a new reading room was opened with tables and chairs, and the library collection was enhanced with magazines, newspapers and reference books. In 1908, the library moved into the newly built Town Hall, where it would remain for nearly 75 years.

In 1930, Miss Mary Ella Pierce left a sum of $5000 to the library, with an additional bequest of $32,500 given to the library upon the death of her niece. Miss Pierce also donated a bookcase and over 200 volumes. Her generosity allowed the library to flourish during the 1940s and 50s, as the collection continued to grow and circulation figures increased steadily. A Children’s Room and the Mattie Jenkins Genealogical Room were created from space upstairs in Town Hall during this time.

A Modern Building

In 1982, faced with the prospect that the library would soon outgrow its space, the Board of Library Trustees proposed a new building for the library. A community needs survey, completed in November 1983, indicated the citizens of Whitman overwhelmingly endorsed the idea; by 1988, the new library was constructed and opened on the site of the former Dyer School.
~Information from: whitmanpubliclibrary.org