The New Salem Public Library was started through the generosity of two sisters, Miss Rebekah Wheeler and Mrs. Eliza Ellis, who established a trust fund from which part of the annual interest was to be used for books for the town library. In April 1889, the trustees purchased 848 volumes for the beginning of the collection. This collection was housed in the town meeting house and opened March 3, 1890.
By 1913, the town meeting house was not large enough to house all the additions and donations of material and the library was moved across the street
street to the northeast corner of the common, in a building known as the “Old Academy”. By 1970, the New Salem Academy ceased to exist as a public school and the library was re-located back in the now “Old Town Meeting House” as a new meeting facility had been built in 1938. Many renovations to the building were made that year and the next, some of which were: installation of a furnace, insulation of the building, wiring, interior and exterior light fixtures, book shelves installed, the platform removed and the floor refinished.
In 1986, a handicapped accessible bathroom was built and the building was made handicapped accessible in 1995, thus bringing the building into compliance with the American with Disabilities act. In 1999, with this building bursting at the seams, a special town meeting approved $70,000 for the purchase and renovation of a bookstore property for a new library building across the street from the old library. The trustees and the library director received a building and design grant from the MBLC that same year. In 2001 the library received the approval of a matching grant but was placed on the “waiting list” for funding by the State Legislature.
On January 15, 2004, the trustees received the exciting news that the $286,530 awarded grant from the MBLC was finally being funded by the Legislature. A Building Committee was formed; members included Lawrence Blakley, Nancy Aldrich, Donna Cramer, Carol Ann Fisk, Althea Gilmore, Marjorie McGinnis, Anthony Palmieri, John Ryan, Connie Turner, and Diana Smith. The project went out to bid and it was determined that the cost of the project had increased about $225,000 with a scaled down version of the original plans. The meeting room was not included as well as costly flooring and extra windows.
The town voters approved a debt exclusion ballot question at the Annual Town Election for $225,000 in the form of a 40-year loan from the USDA-Rural Development. N.L. Construction of Ludlow, MA was awarded the construction contract with the lowest bid of $529,000. On July 15, 2006 the library had the Grand Opening with the Building Committee bringing the project to a successful conclusion on time and under budget.
The New Salem Public Library is located in the Historical District, in New Salem Center, off Route 202. The exterior of the building is white clapboard with copper covered archways over the front and side doors. There are many large windows, with a bay window facing the main street. Four tables in the Adult non-fiction section are for reading or studying, and tables and chairs in the children’s room offer a great place for crafts and activities for children’s programs. We have four patron-use computers in the library. We have room for artwork on one wall and a couch and comfortable chairs for newspaper reading.
The library is governed by a three-member Board of Trustees and operated by a part-time Director who is paid a salary to work 20 hours per week. This has increased closed time and makes running the library more manageable. Two additional staff members work 21 hours a week with one of those hours closed time for cataloging items. Funding for staffing programs is paid in addition to regular staff hours.
The library is open 20 hours a week now with an addition of two hours. Our hours are Tuesday 12:00 to 8:00pm, Thursday 10:00am to 5:00pm and Saturday 9:00am to 2:00pm. We recently extended our hours on Thursdays and Saturdays. These hours are continued throughout the year.
The library collection includes 9,535 books, 792 audio books and music, 1,968 DVDs and videos, 22 periodicals, 38 puzzles and games for children and adults. This is a total of 12,355 items. We continue to weed our collection to keep it current.
We have a fractionated T1 line but are looking forward to Mass. Broadband to come to the library in January so we can provide faster internet service to our patrons. We have wifi that is used regularly even when the library is closed. We will continue this service through C/WMARS in January using the Mass. Broadband cable.
There are 990 residents in New Salem and 540 are registered borrowers. We are a mini-net member of C/WMARS and everyone enjoys all the services we are able to provide. Our circulation for the fiscal year 2014 was 14,593, down a bit from the year before. Some of the figures may be low due to our migration to Evergreen our new operating system.
The mission of the New Salem Public Library is to provide a community center that supports life-long learning. The library strives to meet the resident’s needs with educational, recreational and cultural materials by providing print and non-print materials, technological resources and programs for children and adults. The library staff offers service in current technologies and provides vital information services for the community members.
FRIENDS OF THE NEW SALEM PUBLIC LIBRARY
The purpose of the Friends of the New Salem Public Library is to:
Enrich the partnership between the library and the community by actively supporting the Library through programming, advocacy, volunteer services and fundraising.
Promote public awareness of the resources, services and the needs of the New Salem Public Library.
Support and cooperate with the Library staff and the Trustees in identifying and developing library services, needs, and facilities to meet library needs.
Encourage, solicit and receive gifts and bequests to the Library from corporations, businesses, community organizations and private citizens.
Support the development and enhancement of Library services.
Support the American Library Association Bill of Rights.
Provide programs and events for the public that support and provide education to the public.
Friends' website: nsfriendsoflibrary.weebly.com
Friends' facebook page: www.facebook.com/FriendsofNewSalemPublicLibrary
Friends of the Library Board
Co-chairs Mary-Ann Palmieri
Recording Secretary Anna Channing
Treasurer Karen Stevens
Publicity Julie Hubbard
Programming Betsy Bergantino