The very first Somerville library opened in 1873 with just 2,389 books on its shelves. Today, the city's three libraries circulate over 440,000 items per year. Books are not all they offer.
All three provide free computer access and WiFi and also loan audiobooks, music CDs and language learning programs as well as films on DVD and video. A large collection of newspapers and magazines can be read at the libraries. Free family passes to area museums can be checked out and used for free admission to venues including the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, the Boston Children's Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Activities also fill their calendars. Programs offered include children's story times, book clubs for all ages, film screenings, occasional performances, a young adult chess club and lectures. Community groups may use the main branch's assembly room to hold meetings. All three libraries hold English as Second Language (ESL) classes as well.
How did this all start? In 1907, the wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie gave Somerville $123,000 to build the three libraries we still have today: the central Somerville Public Library and the East and West Branches. In 1909, the West Branch opened the doors of its pretty Classical Revival-style building. In 1914, the central library's grand Italian Renaissance Revival-style building, designed by Edward Lippincott Tilton, was complete. And in 1918, the East Branch opened and rounded out the trio.
- Hours: Mon - Thu, 9am - 9pm; Fri, 9am - 6pm; Sat, 9am - 5pm; Sun (closed Sundays in summer; otherwise open 10am - 4pm)
- Handicap Accessible: Fully accessible. Elevator to upper levels.
- Founding Date: 1914
- What makes this community special?: "The people are what makes this community great," says Technology Librarian Caron Guigli. "All kinds of people live here and they all come through our door and they are all interesting. That's what makes the community vibrant and a place you want to be."
- Parking: Free lot, On-street: metered
- Size of collection: 137,989
- Services: Audiobooks, Movies, Music CDs, Research databases, Resources for job seekers
- Internet use policy: Two one-hour sessions allowed per day.
- Programs/classes: Book groups, story times, midweek sing, ESL classes, film screenings, "babygarten" for caregivers and infants up to 18 monthschess night, a variety of youth programs
- Book donation information: The nonprofit group Friends of the Library accepts book donations for their twice yearly book sale to benefit the library.
- Wi-Fi: Free
- Private events: No