The Richmond Free Public Library endeavors to be an integral part of community life in Richmond and to be a friendly, welcoming place for patrons to gather. The library strives to provide educational support to life-long learners and strives to support the civic, cultural and social pursuits of our patrons. The library also strives to provide informational and popular materials for the entire Richmond community.
In 1892, the Richmond Free Public Library was established when the Richmond Grange turned over to the town its library of between two and three hundred books. With additional books from the Massachusetts Library Association, the library was established. It was first housed in the study of the local parsonage. The first report of the Library Committee appears in the Town Report of 1893. At that time the library had 498 volumes that had been in circulation since November of 1892, and there were 51 patrons. By 1895 the Rev. T.C. Luce was appointed the librarian and the number of patrons had grown to 86.
In 1902, Mrs. Abbie Barnes became the librarian and the books were moved to her house on State Road. In her first report to the town as librarian, Mrs. Barnes wrote in part “The library is open every day and evening except Sunday while the librarian is at home… The library is free to all the people of the town and to the stranger who tarries in our midst. Books may be kept two weeks, but cannot be renewed. If held over time, a fine of one cent a day is imposed.” The next librarian appointed was Ida H. Barnes in 1914. She was paid $75 for rent and care of the library. Noted additions to the library collection that year were The Harvard Classics, (We still have these.) and there were 3,257 books in the collection.
In April 1943, Miss Ida H. Barnes was obliged to resign the librarianship after nearly 30 years of service. The trustees managed the routine work of the library assisted by five high school girls who took turns being in charge of the desk. Thanks to the cooperation of the Selectmen, the School Superintendent, the School Committee, and the Community Health Association, permission was secured to move the books into the south room of the Richmond Consolidated School, with the understanding that this arrangement was only for the duration of the war. The books were moved during August and were arranged with the help of two State Library Advisers. Several hundred books had to be put in storage for lack of room.
In 1944 the cataloging of the books was completed. The library now had nearly 2,600 books. This did not include the books still in storage from the previous move. The library was again staffed by high school girls under the supervision of the trustees. The trustees were very grateful for the use of the room at the Richmond Consolidated School.
In 1945 a committee was appointed at Town Meeting to plan for new library building. In August 1946 a new building was approved by the town, but no money was appropriated for construction. Because of the increase in the number of pupils, it was necessary for the library to give up the room in the Richmond Consolidated School in 1948. During the summer, the library was moved across the road to the Moore house. It was hoped that a room would be provided back at the school when the planned addition was added to the school building.
In 1959 the library moved back to the Richmond Consolidated School. The library opened in its new room in the school basement on July 20, 1960 only to be moved again thirteen years later into two older upstairs rooms on the north side of the Richmond Consolidated School because the school was again overcrowded.
In 1995 the library completed its first Long Range Plan. A year later it moved from the school to a former gas station/craft shop on State Road, because the school needed the room the library was in for classes.
In 1996 The Friends of the Richmond Library was established.
In July 1999 The Municipal Facilities Committee was formed to begin the steps to plan for a new library building. Unfortunately the plan was defeated at Town Meeting in 2005.
In 2002 the library became a mini-net member of CWMARS and began circulating items online. Wireless internet was installed at the library, and the former J&J Books space was added to the library space, in 2006. Some years later the library was reconfigured by downsizing the book sale area, expanding the fiction, creating a new non-fiction area and creating a Richmond Historical Area.
In 2017 the library celebrated it’s 125th year. In 2019 the library initiated a new service, delivering library materials to patrons who are home bound, and a new Municipal Building Committee was formed to plan for a new town hall and a new library. This proposal was approved at the May 2021 Town Meeting. We are now awaiting construction that is expected to begin in the spring.
Assistant Library Director