Northborough Free Library celebrates 150th anniversary with curated historical exhibit

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Chris Lindquist. Photo/Melanie Petrucci
Chris Lindquist. Photo/Melanie Petrucci

Northborough – On Nov. 7, the Northborough Free Library held a reception marking the opening of the Gale Library exhibit, “An Historical Exhibit in Celebration of the Northborough Free Library’s 150th Anniversary (1868 ~ 2018).”

The reception is part of a year-long celebration that kicked off April 8 with a birthday party exactly 150 years to the day of the first board meeting, held in Cyrus Gale’s home. The minutes of that first board meeting have been preserved and are included in the exhibit.

The celebration will culminate April 6, 2019, with a 150th Jubilee at the Haven Country Club in Boylston.

“First I want to give credit where credit is due; I stand on the shoulders of Jean Langley the former library director,” said current Director Chris Lindquist. “Jean was here for 39 years…She developed a timeline and it’s on our website, starting in 1792 to where the new addition was built in 2009.”

In 1851 the commonwealth established the Free Public Library system and, in 1861, the Reverend Joseph Allen (noted Northborough resident) thought that one was needed in Northborough and raised the appeal.

The original Gale Library opened in 1895 and was named for one of its benefactors, Captain Cyrus Gale and his wife, who gifted $1,000 to establish the library. It was housed at the Old Town Hall on Main Street which has since burned down.

“Thanks to a significant donation by Cyrus Gale Jr. and Ellen M. Gale, including the land on which the original library sits, the Gale Library Building was dedicated in 1895 and opened to the public on June 12 of that year,” added Lindquist.

He noted that the library was constructed in pink granite in the neoclassical style with a Greek arch.

The exhibit features historical photographs and original documents from the collections of the Northborough Historical Society Museum, as well as from the library’s local history collection.

One such document of note included in the exhibit predates the Gale Library. The library’s 1792 “Regulations” established the rules for a group of 30 subscribers or members who formed the first known lending library in Northborough. There was a fee of $3 to belong and up to three books could be borrowed at a time. The loan period depended on the distance the member lived from the library, which had to be within one mile from the Meeting House.

“The library is indebted to the Northborough Historical Society Museum and to the Museum Curator Ellen Racine,” Lindquist said.

The exhibit is being held in the library’s main meeting room and is open to the public through Monday, Dec. 31, during the library’s normal operating hours, when the room is not in use.

For more information, available viewing times, and the 150th Jubilee, contact Chris Lindquist at 508-393-5025. For information about the library, visit www.northboroughlibrary.org.