Manchester, Connecticut

Manchester Public Library History

 

  • 1840 - Employees of Cheney Brothers hire a book reader to read aloud to them while they work.

  • 1850 - Employees petition for a library. Request granted. Collection housed first in Cheney Brothers office then in basement of Cheney Hall. This is nucleus for  South Manchester Free Public Library.

  • 1871 - Manchester Library Association formed. Members pay one dollar. South  Manchester Free Public Library formed.

  • 1880-1913 - Library housed on Wells Street. Collection made available to public.

  • 1895 -  A Loan Library was started "over North" by the Circle of the King's  Daughters. Library housed in the Patten & Brown building.

  • 1898 -  McCormick house on North Main Street becomes home of North Manchester Library.

  • 1913 - Fire destroys the South Manchester Free Public Library quarters on Wells  Street. Library moves to the Eldridge house on Main Street.

  • 1914 - North Manchester Library moves into a large room at Robertson School.

  • 1921 - A branch library opens at the West Side Recreation building.

  • 1923 - South Manchester Free Public Library's books and equipment are given to the Ninth School District by Cheney Brothers.

  • 1930 -  Cheney Brothers sever all connections with the library and donate a $50,000  trust fund for a new building.

  • 1930-32 South Manchester Free Public Library was maintained by the Ninth School District.

  • 1932 - South Manchester Free Public Library moves into the Recreation Building in Educational Square, moving out of the Eldridge House.

  • 1932 - Whiton Memorial Library "over North" is dedicated. The new library building for the North Manchester Library is made possible by funds donated by Doctor and Mrs. Francis Whiton. In 1934 the $24,900 remaining from donation is invested.

  • 1935 - Ninth School District dissolved. The two libraries in town were consolidated. They operated under a joint Board of Directors but carried on as two individual institutions.

  • 1937 - South Manchester Free Public Library moves into a new building and is renamed Mary Cheney Library, located 'in Center Park' on Main Street. Money for the building is made possible from Cheney Brothers fund and Federal Public Works Administration  funds.

  • 1952 - Long-time Mary Cheney Head Librarian Miss Jessamine Smith retires. Miss Anna Caroline French appointed Head Librarian. At the same time, Mary Cheney Library and Whiton Memorial Library are 'coordinated.' Annual circulation (lending) of materials is approximately 150,000 items.

  • 1962 - Mary Cheney Library has two new wings (Children's and Reference) and additional stack space added, along with other  interior improvements made.

  • 1973 - Bookmobile service in Manchester began on an experimental basis. The Connecticut State Library made available to the Manchester Public  Library one of the three bookmobiles owned by the State.

  • 1974 - West Side Rec. Branch closed; average daily patron attendance had dropped to only 12 people.

  • 1988 - Library begins circulating materials with the "Circess" computer system operated by the Capitol Region Library Council, Windsor. Videocassettes added to collection c. 1987.

  • 1991 - Annual circulation of materials is 302,000 items, with 53,000 of that at Whiton. Long-time Library Director John Jackson retires 1990. Douglas McDonough appointed Library Director in 1991.

  • 1994 - Whiton building receives major infrastructure improvements including new furnace, asbestos removal, new phone system, electric improvements, all funded by 'trust fund' set up with money remaining after original construction of building.

  • 1995 - Old walk-on bookmobile traded to Police Dept. New bookmobile van bought.

  • 1998 - Howroyd Room created from basement storage space under the Children's Room at the Mary Cheney building. Taggart Fund for children's books receives substantial increase in 2000. Through reorganzation, additional Children's Librarians hired.

  • 2001 - Annual circulation of materials exceeds 800,000 items, with 200,000 of that at Whiton.

  • 2002 - Library receives Award of Excellence from: Connecticut State Library, Association of Conn. Library Boards, Friends of Conn. Libraries, and Conn. Library Association. Annual circulation as of June 30, 2003 reaches. 886,673. Parking Study, Space Planning, and Site Selection studies undertaken over the course of three years. Mary Cheney building is 26,135 sq. feet and is considered grossly undersized.

  • 2003 Library Board becomes Advisory through Charter Revision vote. State and local budget crisis results in reduction of hours at the Whiton Branch and the Mary Cheney main library, as well as reduction in book budget. Library bookmobile van reassigned to Public Works department.

  • 2006 Circulation of materials drops steadily, reaching 739,358. Late in year, Jarvis Book Fund donation received. New Town General Manager Scott Shanley hired.

  • 2007 Circulation of materials begins increasing again, with Manchester again becoming fourth highest-lending public library in the state as of June 30,2008.

  • 2009 Annual loaning of materials as of June 30, 2009 was 834,467 with 183,645 of that at Whiton. Architects retained to study possibility of expansion of current Mary Cheney Library building.