We invite you to explore the history of the Wellesley Free Library
Until the 1850’s most libraries were private, subscription based, or library companies. There were several of these scattered throughout Wellesley including the Needham Farmers’ library of Alvin Fuller II and The West Needham Library in Waban Block as well as a Sewing Circle in the Fells which circulated books.
Scroll down to see everything from when the library was built to today and familiarize yourself with the history of your local library.
The current Town Hall then known as the Wellesley Free Library was erected by Horatio Hollis Hunnewell and designed by architects Shaw and Hunnewell.
Town Hall Added
In 1885 the Town Hall moved into the same building as the library.
The Town accepts the gift from Mr. H. H. Hunnewell (above) of the Parks, Town Hall and Library and the appointment of the first librarian Julia F. Jennings. Mr. Hunnewell continued to pay all expenses until 1890.
The Public Library Joins the Town
The Wellesley Free Library becomes a town department. Under the Board of Trustees with an appropriation of $2,016.78 and an endowment of $21,000.
The Turn of the Century
Florence M. Osborne becomes Library Director. The Wellesley Free Library has 12,054 volumes.
The Hills Branch
Isaac Sprague donates the Wellesley Hills Branch library to the care of the Woman’s Club. Elizabeth H Camp becomes Library Director.
New Director and 3 Branches
The Town accepts responsibility for 3 library branches The Hills, Fells and Cedar St. (In the Fiske School). Kathleen A. Kennedy becomes Library Director.
Margaret Arnold becomes Library Director.
Cedar St Branch
The Cedar St library branch is closed for use by the Fiske school. The collection was merged with that of the main library.
The Friends of the Wellesley Free Library
The Friends of the Wellesley Free Library is founded.
A New Library
Carl Koch and Kirkland Construction build a new library for $365,000, which opens after “Operation Bookswitch” transfers the collection across the street.
A Modern Library
The Library is praised for its modern architecture by the American Library Association and American Institute of Architects.
Close the Branches
The Trustees announce the intent to close the Branches but change their minds after residents adamantly oppose the closings.
Architects Abrahamson and Anderson and Vappi & Company contractors built a 15,000 Square foot addition for 1.4 million dollars.
Anne Reynolds becomes Library Director.
Celebration of WFL 100th birthday and fund raising drive result in the creation of the Centennial Fund as a permanent resource.
The paper Card Catalog is replaced with a computerized catalog.
Janice Coduri becomes Library Director.
The Age of Modern Computers
Catalog terminals are replaced by PC’s with internet access.
New Library Opens
The 15 million dollar library includes room for community functions with a new auditorium, meeting rooms, and expanded underground parking.
Wellesley voters reject public funding which would allow the two branch libraries to remain open.
WFL Foundation Founded
Branches reopen with limited hours thanks to a private fundraising effort. The WFL Foundation is created in order to enrich, not replace, municipal library funding.
Jamie Jurgensen becomes Library Director.
NAO robots Lava & Sky bring digital literacy to life! These high-tech ambassadors welcome everyone to explore the world of STEAM.
Fells Branch Renovated
Fells Branch renovated with new cedar shake roof, fence, and exterior and interior painting. The November reopening focused on a new early learning library.