History of the Library
The Brockton Public Library was first established in 1867 when Brockton was still known as the town of North Bridgewater. With a collection of about 600 books purchased from prominent citizens, the town opened the library in what was called the Studley building near the corner of Main and High streets. The library changed locations a couple of times until 1893 when it moved to the basement of City Hall.
As early as 1903, the city's librarian was citing the need for a larger facility. In 1910, Brockton Mayor William H. Clifford wrote a letter to industrialist Andrew Carnegie requesting a donation for a new public library building. During his lifetime, Carnegie was responsible for the construction of 2,509 libraries in the English-speaking world. Brockton's librarian, Frank H. Whitmore, followed up the Mayor's letter with his own appeal to Carnegie, saying that:
"The library shelves, after allowance has been made for a newly constructed balcony, are crowded. All available space has been used on the shelves in the Reference Room and the library is making use of a room for storage purposes not conveniently near the main collection."
Carnegie agreed to donate $75,000 to build a new library, then increased the donation to $110,000 after the city conducted a study of library needs and found that the original amount would be insufficient. In return, the city agreed to appropriate at least $11,000 annually for the operation of the library.
The dedication of the new library took place on June 10, 1913. Designed by Nathaniel C. Smith of New Bedford, the exterior of the building was constructed with brick and limestone, and the interior finish was of white marble and quartered oak. Skylights were built into the roof to provide natural lighting for the facility. The skylights have since been blocked, and much of the marble in the building has been covered with carpeting.
Another major feature was added to the library in 1941 when Fritz Fuglister completed the murals in the rotunda. Covering four walls, the murals depict the history of books and printing, starting with the manuscripts of the ancient and medieval world, progressing to Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, and ending with 20th century printing methods. The work was done under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration.
The building was renovated in 2003. The expansion added to the original building more than doubled the size of the library. Many new computers were added along with a computer laboratory to be used to instruct patrons and staff in the use of computer resources. An audio-visual room is now available for non-print resources. Three conference rooms are also available along with a number of small tutor rooms.