Watertown Library Association
Celebrating 150 Years of Sevice
The Watertown Library Associaton has been serving the reading and research needs of the Watertown and Oakville Communities since 1865.
Our mission is to provide our patrons with access and guidance to materials, resources and services for their information, education and enrichment of life. Through computer technology we provide access to our own collections as well as outside resources.
The year 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of our founding.
In recognition of this milestone, we've put together a timeline of our history along with a few other items of interest.
Did You Know
The year the Watertown Library Association is founded, the Army of the Potomac celebrated the end of the Civil War by parading down Pennsylvania Avenue.
The year the Watertown Library opens on DeForest Street, Mark Twain Publishes "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".
The Year the Oakville Library Association is founded, the Archduke of Austria and his wife Sophie are assassinated in Sarajevo, the casus belli of WWI.
The year the first Children's Room open at the Watertown Library, the British & French begin evacuation of Dunkirk during WWII.
The year the current Watertown Library building (470 Main St) opens, President Eisenhower signs into law the National Aeronautics & Space Act.
The year the Friends of the Watertown Library Association is founded, Senator John F Kennedy announces his candidacy for the US Presidency.
The year the Watertown and Oakville Library Associations merge, Apollo 10 transmits the first color pictures of Earth from space.
The year the current Oakville Branch (55 Davis St) opens to the public, the US Senate approves an amendment lowering the voting age to 18.
Watertown Library Association launches its first website, Forbes Magazine announces Bill Gates is the richest man in world.
Rev. Dr. William H. Lewis, the rector of Christ Church leads a meeting to establish a Watertown Library Association.
The first Watertown Library is housed in an upper room of the Academy building. Nancy E. Bronson is appointed the first librarian.
The original library collection consisited of 500 books and a few standard magazines. There were 96 annual subscribers.1865
As the collection expanded, the Watertown Library moves to an upper room above the F.N. Barton Store on Woodbury Road.1866
By 1868, the Watertown Library collection had expanded to include 743 books and 20 periodicals. There were now 146 annual subscribers and the annual budget for the association totaled $986.1868
Dr. John DeForest donates $5000 to establish a perpetual fund for the Watertown Library.
His family will donate $46,500 over the years to the Watertown Library Association.1879
New Building Completed
The first independent Watertown Library building is completed at the cost of $14,050. The new stone building is located on DeForest Street.1885
Assistant Librarian Appointed
Miss Jennie Smith is appointed assistant librarian.1885
Donations and Bequests
Dr. John DeForest donates a second $5000 to the Watertown Library Association. At his death, 2 years later, he leaves the library another $10,000.
Other notable bequests are made by: Leman W. Cutler, the 1st president of the Association, Caleb T. Hickox and Henry Platt.
Donations and bequests from the Heminway, Merriman and Woodward families and well as many others continue to fund the library to this day.1886
First Librarian Retires
After 38 years and 6 months, Miss Bronson retires from her position as the head librarian at the Watertown Library Association. Miss Jennie Smith, the assistant librarian, is appointed Head Librarian.1903
Oakville Library Association
The Oakville Library Association is formed by 28 people in a small room in South School. Marion Cooper is appointed librarian for the Oakville Library.1914
By 1915, the Watertown Library collection had expanded to include 13,265 books and 2,281 periodicals. There were now 850 borrowers.1915
New Location for Oakville Library
Oakville Library moves to the Oakville Congregational Church.
Carrie Woodruff, the first cousin of Marion Cooper, takes over as librarian at the Oakville Library.1922
An addition to the Watertown Library is built in order to house the Curtiss Collection of rare books.1924
Oakville Library Location Changed
The Oakville Library moves back to it's original location at South School.1925
Children's Room Proposed
Mrs. Henry "Granny" Scovill proposes an area for the children of the Watertown Library Association. She donates $3000 for the formation of a special room for children at the Watertown Library.
On November 15, 1940, the Children's Room opens at the Watertown Library Association.1940
With the increase in annual subscribers it was decided that Watertown Library did not have enough land and needed to relocate to a new site with more space for parking and future additions.1947
Standardized Operating Hours
Mrs. Shons takes over as head librarian at the Watertown Library.
Before Mrs. Shons is appointed head librarian, the library was only opened at odd hours, Mrs. Shons revolutionizes the library by integrating standardized hours and days for the library to be open.
With the implementation of standardized operating hours, people could plan when to visit the library and not be concerned that the library would be closed when they arrived.1953
Plans For New Library Proposed
Plans for a new library on Main Street are proposed with the option to purchase property from the Pierpont family.
Through a gift from Mrs. John K. Ottley and the efforts of Bartow L. Heminway, a substantial amount of money is raised for the building of the new library.1955
Building Committee Formed
The fund for the new library is significantly increased through gifts from the Watertown Foundation and the Veterans of WWII.
Alex J. Campbell leads the building committee for the modern libary with an approxiamte cost of $100,000.00. The new library building would be of gray block interior with large windows. Its location would be 470 Main Street.1957
New Building Opens
The Watertown Library at 470 Main Street opens to the public.1958
Friends of the Library
The Friends of the Watertown Library Association is founded in order to raise money for capital expenses and programs.1960
The Smith property to the south of the main library is purchased for $30,000 for future expansions.1966
The Watertown and Oakville Library Associations merge.
The Boards of the Watertown & Oakville Library Associations "agree that the best interests of the Town of Watertown would be served by having one Library Board and one Library Corporation to administer all library services in the Town of Watertown."
A proposal for a new Oakville Branch Library is put forth and it is agreed to establish a permanent library building in the Oakville section of town.1969
By 1970, the Watertown Library collection had expanded to include 80,838 items in circulation.1970
New Oakville Branch Library Opens
Construction for the new Oakville Branch Library at 55 Davis Street is completed.1971
Watertown Library Renovations
A 7000 sq ft addition is completed at the main library. This new addition currently houses the majority of the children's library collection.1979
The Watertown Library goes live on its first integrated library system. This allowed for automated circulation, inventory and patron database. There were three circulation terminals.
Three migrations later, the library still operates on an integrated library system, but now our patrons can browse the catalog on their phones and download eBooks.1985
World Wide Web
The first Watertown Library web site is launched.1995
Oakville Branch Renovations
In 2003, the Oakville Branch Library underwent a complete renovation.
The branch houses a children's collection and popular adult reading, as well as, a meeting room.2003
Present Day Statistics
The Watertown Library Association has 13,005 registered borrowers.
52 percent of all Watertown and Oakville residents have a library card.
The library collection currently has 74,360 printed materials in circulation along with 5,000 ebooks, videos, CDs, DVDs and streaming video.2015
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”
― Neil Gaiman
“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”
― Ray Bradbury
"The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man."
― T.S. Eliot
"The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library."
― Albert Einstein
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