A library society was formed in Phillipston in 1800 according to a diary of the time. Books were a luxury and printing was costly, so a library society would have provided a way for people to share books. Our current library was established in 1860 with a gift of $5000 from Jonathan Phillips of Boston, nephew of Lieutenant Governor Phillips, for whom the town was named. The interest from the gift was to be used to purchase books for a Town Library. The following is an excerpt from the trust:
"Phillipston takes a special interest in the cause of Education and has taken a prominent, if not the first rank among the towns of Massachusetts in the care and support of public schools. I therefore give five thousand dollars to said town as a trust fund, the income and produce of which shall annually be expended in procuring Books for a Town Library."
The Phillips Free Library officially opened in 1862 in Gould Tavern. Located on the Common, the Gould Tavern provided food and room accommodations for travelers, and a room for special gatherings. ~According to records, early library purchases included a dictionary, a set of encyclopedias, books on historical periods, and novels by classic writers such as Dickens and Hawthorne.
In 1868, the library was moved to Baldwinville Road, to the house of Librarian Tina Chaffin. When the town hall opened in 1891, the 8,000 volumes of the~library were relocated into a room specially designed to house the collection (currently the kitchen). Few towns of that size had so many good quality books. The town purchased bookcases, two large tables, along with a display case for natural history objects, which are still in use today. In 1938 Jonathan Phillips willed the library an oil portrait of Lieutenant Governor Phillips, which has hung in the library ever since. Library book and magazine purchases of the day were listed every year in the Town reports.
In 1952, the library was moved to its present location, the No. 1 Schoolhouse, which was built in 1790. This building had been left vacant since the Memorial School opened in 1948. The Grange helped to renovate the school so that it could be used as the library.
A friends group was active from 1973- 2007. The current Children's Room addition was added through a grant procured by the Friends Group in 2002. In 2006 Colleen Richard painted historical scenes from the town, onto a large decorative apple housed in the library.
Edna Haley served as the town's longest serving Librarian from 1965- 2007, a total of 42 years. She has been instrumental in welcoming and acquainting newcomers to the town. Tina Chaffin also held the position for a long time,~38 years, starting in 1868. Town resident Arlene Cassavant also provided funds upon her death, that the library trustees have used to make many recent updates and improvements to the building. Today the library strives to provide appropriate services for its residents, while retaining its simple home town~charm, all in a historical setting.
Excerpted from The Spirit of Phillipston by Carole J. Gariepy and Jane French
The Phillips Free Public Library serves to build community, connect people of all ages and foster the joy of reading in a friendly, helpful and fun atmosphere. We strive to enrich the lives of our patrons by providing access to information, knowledge and ideas that promote creativity, inspire curiosity and afford an opportunity for life-long learning.