Library History

Old Library 1

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.

Library Opened

Town Hall 2

The current Town Hall then known as the Wellesley Free Library was erected by Horatio Hollis Hunnewell and designed by architects Shaw and Hunnewell.

Fall 1883

Town Hall Added

Town Hall

In 1885 the Town Hall moved into the same building as the library.

1885

Our Benefactor

H H Hunnewell

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.

1887

The Public Library Joins the Town

Wellesley

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.

1899

The Turn of the Century

Old Books 1

Florence M. Osborne becomes Library Director. The Wellesley Free Library has 12,054 volumes.

1904

The Hills Branch

Hills Branch

Isaac Sprague donates the Wellesley Hills Branch library to the care of the Woman’s Club. Elizabeth H Camp becomes Library Director.

1913

New Director and 3 Branches

Hills Branch Library

Fells Branch Library

Fiske School

The Town accepts responsibility for 3 library branches The Hills, Fells and Cedar St. (In the Fiske School). Kathleen A. Kennedy becomes Library Director.

1920s-1940s

New Director

Peg Arnold

Margaret Arnold becomes Library Director.

1950

Cedar St Branch

Fiske School

The Cedar St library branch is closed for use by the Fiske school. The collection was merged with that of the main library.

1951

The Friends of the Wellesley Free Library

FWFL

The Friends of the Wellesley Free Library is founded.

1952

A New Library

Operation Bookswitch

Carl Koch and Kirkland Construction build a new library for $365,000, which opens after “Operation Bookswitch” transfers the collection across the street.

1959

A Modern Library

Wellesley Architecture

The Library is praised for its modern architecture by the American Library Association and American Institute of Architects.

1963

Close the Branches

Libraries 1970

The Trustees announce the intent to close the Branches but change their minds after residents adamantly oppose the closings.

1970

Library Addition

Library Addition

Architects Abrahamson and Anderson and Vappi & Company contractors built a 15,000 Square foot addition for 1.4 million dollars.

1980

New Director

Ann Reynolds

Anne Reynolds becomes Library Director.

1981

Centennial Fund

Centennial

Celebration of WFL 100th birthday and fund raising drive result in the creation of the Centennial Fund as a permanent resource.

1983

Card Catalog

Card Catalog 1

The paper Card Catalog is replaced with a computerized catalog.

1984

New Director

download

Janice Coduri becomes Library Director.

1997

The Age of Modern Computers

computers

Catalog terminals are replaced by PC’s with internet access.

1998

New Library Opens

wfl

The 15 million dollar library includes room for community functions with a new auditorium, meeting rooms, and expanded underground parking.

2003

Branches Close

Branches close

Wellesley voters reject public funding which would allow the two branch libraries to remain open.

2006

WFL Foundation Founded

wfl icon

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.

2008

New Director

Jamie

Jamie Jurgensen becomes Library Director.

2015
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