Chicopee Public Library

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Chicopee Public Library
449 Front Street
Chicopee, Massachusetts 01013
Established 1853, current building 2004
Staff 35

The Chicopee Public Library is the public library for the city of Chicopee, Massachusetts. A member of the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System,[1] the Chicopee Public Library participates in resources sharing and collaboration with all other libraries in the WRMLS system. The Chicopee Public Library owns approximately 109,000 books according to the 2005 IMLS Public Library Report.[2] Additionally they have 4,200 media items and send and receive over 35,000 interlibrary loan requests. In fiscal year 2008, the city of Chicopee spent 1.1% ($1,401,141) of its budget on its public library—some $25 per person.[3]

The History

The first books

In 1851, Massachusetts towns and cities were authorized by law to designate funds for libraries until 1851. On March 11, 1853, an article was issued: “To see if the town will take measures to establish and maintain a public library for the use of the inhabitants of the town and appropriate money therefore, as petitioned for by John Wells and others.”

In 1853, The Cabot Institute donated 900 books to the city and opened the first free public library west of Boston. The Cabot Institute was a literary and social club of at least 150 members. Among the members was D.K. Pearson, a local doctor who also donated money to Mount Holyoke College for the building of Pearson's dormitory and John Chase, who planned and built the dams to power the mills in Chicopee.

First public library established

The town accepted the article in 1851, establishing the first library in the Western part of the state which was supported by public funds.

In 1863 the town clerks performed the libraries duties. Among the town clerks were J.R. Childs, William L. Bemis and Lester Dickinson.

In 1864 the Town of Chicopee voted to “put it [the duties of the library] in the hands of a library committee and such remained the official designation of the officers until acceptance of the present charter.” [The trustees are currently the managers of the library according to the current charter].

John Wells(1864–1875), Edwin O. Carter (1864-1800) and Simon G. Southworth were among the first committee of the library. From 1857-1864, George V. Wheelock was elected librarian of the Chicopee Public Library. It is written about George V. Wheelock, “he was a lover of books and his judgment was very reliable.”

The early years: 1859-1878

The first library catalogue was printed in 1859 with a supplement to the catalog issued in 1866. The library moved in 1872 from Cabot Hall to City Hall, after it was completed. Second catalog was printed in 1875.

The first branch: Chicopee Falls

1879: Books started to be sent to Chicopee Falls by the library committee. At first to Union Hall where Miss Gorton acted a librarian for the salary of twenty cents per week.

1884: US$500 was given to the library for a room in Bray's building for the expansion of the Chicopee Falls location.

The Women's Christian Temperance Union donated approximately 300 books to Chicopee Falls and additional books were donated to the library by residents of Chicopee Falls included Bilad B. Belcher.

The Chicopee Falls Branch continued to grow until it occupied a room in the Wildes Hotel, a store at the corner of Market and Church Streets, and then in the basement of the George S. Taylor School.

The library continues to grow

1879: a reading room was opened evenings and used in connection with the library. The reading book was a private subscription and run by J.W. Cumnock, Rev. I. F. Porter, George A. Denison, A. F. Gaylord and William W. McClench.

1884, May: The Town of Chicopee voted to make the library free. Prior to the 1884 vote, patrons were charged an annual fee of fifty cents because “theoretically people are more appreciative of privileges if it costs something.”

1888: The library outgrew its space in City Hall and the library trustees issued a statement saying “We feel justified in calling upon our public spirited citizens to unite and erect a public library building from private funds.”

1890: Chicopee became a city and the rooms occupied by the library were needed for meetings of the city council. As a consequence, the building next to the library, formally the home of Jerome Wells, the first president of Chicopee Savings Bank (then Cabot Bank), was purchased and the library housed within.

1899: An addition was made to the building which greatly enlarged the storage capacity.

A second and third branch opens: Willimansett & Fairview

1898: a branch was opened in Willimansett. The use of this branch, however, was not as extensive as the Chicopee Falls branch and the Trustees report of 1913 reflects the low usage

1906: 1,000 books were transferred to the Chicopee Falls branch and 500 to the Willimansett branch by the Trustees. Additionally a card catalog was completed.

1910: Fairview branch was established

A new library building: Market Square

1907: Mrs. Spaulding, wife to Justin Spaulding founder of Spaulding, died and in her will left US$20,000 to the city for the construction of a new library.

The plans for the Market Square building were drawn up by Kirkham & Parlet and the erection of the building was completed by Denis Murphy and Patrick Rourke.

May 13, 1913 a new library was dedicated on the Market Square site.

“The trustees hope in the near future to enlarge the usefulness of the library by keeping the main building open every day from nine o'clock in the forenoon to nine o'clock in the evening and a part of a Sunday afternoon.” -Wriiten in the 1913 Trustees Report.

Today, the library is open 9am-9pm Monday-Thursday, 9-5pm Friday, and is only closed weekends during the summer.[4]

Growing pains

Over time, the building built with the funds of Spaulding and others was outgrown as the population and the collection grew. The building, which was once state of the art, could not accommodate the technology needs of the new century.

Plans began to arise for a new public library building to meet the needs of the large community and the new century of needs. On March 20, 2007, the Chicopee Public Library building in Market Square was closed and on May 22, 2004 the new library building on 449 Front Street opened.

Opening the doors

The new location on 449 Front Street, opened during National Libraries week. The new US$9.3 million facility library space holds the collection, which now totals over 100,000 items, has room to grow in the new 34,000-square-foot (3,200 m2) facility.

The Front Street location has two levels with a local history room, as well as a quiet study room, a Computer Lab for classes, and a Community Room that can seat over 150 people.

The Front Street location is handicap accessible and has plenty of parking, a problem with the old location.

The formal dedication was held on May 21, 2004; Mayor Richard R. Goyette and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey spoke to state legislators, trustees, friends of the library, supporters and regional library commissioners. Other speakers includeded John Krzeminski Jr, a representative of the Partyka family, who donated US$500,000 in the name of Emily Partyka to the "Raise the Roof" campaign for a new library.


The Chicopee Public Library offers many services including:

  • Interlibrary Loan with all of Massachusetts
  • Borrowing Museum Passes
  • DVD, Playaways, VHS, CD, Books, Magazines, and Newspapers
  • Virtual Reference with Meebo from the Chicopee Library Staff
  • Electronic Databases
  • eBooks, eAudiobooks, and eVideos from C/W MARS
  • Programming for Adults, Children, and Young Adults
  • Computer Classes



  1. Western Massachusetts Regional Library System
  2. IMLS Public Library Data
  3. July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008; cf. The FY2008 Municipal Pie: What’s Your Share? Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Board of Library Commissioners. Boston: 2009. Available: Municipal Pie Reports. Retrieved 2010-08-04
  4. Hours and Directions

External links

Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.