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.


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.


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.


The Turn of the Century

Old Books 1

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


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.


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.


New Director

Peg Arnold

Margaret Arnold becomes Library Director.


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.


The Friends of the Wellesley Free Library


The Friends of the Wellesley Free Library is founded.


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.


A Modern Library

Wellesley Architecture

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


Close the Branches

Libraries 1970

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


Library Addition

Library Addition

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


New Director

Ann Reynolds

Anne Reynolds becomes Library Director.


Centennial Fund


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


Card Catalog

Card Catalog 1

The paper Card Catalog is replaced with a computerized catalog.


New Director


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.


Branches Close

Branches close

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


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.


New Director


Jamie Jurgensen becomes Library Director.


Robots Arrive

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.


Automated Materials Handler


Automated Materials Handler checks in material using radio frequency identification and sorts into appropriate category bins.



Wellesley Fells Heroes Garden

Hero's Garden

The Heroes Garden honors Wellesley’s first-responders and frontline workers during the Covid-19 crisis.


Wellesley Main Library Renovation

2021 Renovation

Wellesley Main Library gets a beautiful interior renovation.


Reach for Knowledge Sculpture

Reach for Knowledge schulpture

Nancy Schön’s sculpture “Reach for Knowledge” welcomes patrons to the library.