The freedom to pursue knowledge is a foundation of our democracy. The Lawrence Free Public Library, an essential public institution, strives to serve as an accessible and responsive information and literary center for all residents of the Lawrence community. Through its evolving collection of materials and an abiding concern for its customers, the Library exists to preserve the free development and expression of ideas essential for an informed citizenry.
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement
The Lawrence Public Library occupies land that was originally inhabited by the Pennacook people. They were among the earliest indigenous tribes to come into contact with the invading English. One of the most well-known Pennacook today is the Sachem (Chief) Passaconaway (Child of the Bear) who negotiated a treaty with the settlers as early as the 1620s. The Pennacook maintained a large confederacy in the Merrimack Valley until they were forced out by disease and conflict brought on by European colonization. An Algonquian speaking people, the folklore they passed on across distance and time marks the beginning of community information sharing in what is now Lawrence, Massachusetts. We encourage you to learn more about the contributions Indigenous people have made and continue to make to libraries by visiting: ailanet.org
The Library Now
In 1965, a proposal for a new library facility got underway. The idea was that the new facility be a complete center of learning and information to the patrons and residents of Lawrence. Facilities such as Exhibit Rooms, a Business Section, Audio-Visual Services, and special accommodations for advanced students and adults were all included in the planning of the new building. The projected space needs for the new facility were based on the assumption that 250,000 volumes would have to be accommodated by 1985. Spaciousness, plenty of reading and browsing room, as well as easy access to all library materials were major concerns in the design and architecture of the proposed facility.
The Library's annual budget is made up by the Library administration and the city’s Budget and Finance Director. It is then adopted by a majority vote of the city council. The municipal appropriation accounts for the majority of the Library’s operating budget. The remaining funds are received via the Mass Board of Library Association State Aid grant program, as well as other grants and contributions.
History of the Library
The Franklin Library Association was formed on March 31, 1847, with Capt. Charles H. Bigelow, the engineer, under whom the Great Stone Dam was built, functioning as the library’s first president. Other original members were Caleb M. Marvel, and Charles S. Storrow. Abbott Lawrence (who gave Lawrence its name) donated $1000 to purchase books that would “tend to create mechanics, good Christians and good patriots.” An additional $5000 came to the association when Mr. Lawrence died in 1855.
The Library is under the governance of its Board of Trustees. This board consists of the Mayor as ex-officio Chair, the three trustees of the White Fund (as ex-officio members) and five community members elected appointed by the Mayor.
As a member of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium (MVLC) the Lawrence Public Library is able to offer quality online databases to its patrons as well as take part in the interlibrary loan program run through the entire state. The Library has made educational purchasing a high priority, particularly in the area of free, library card accessible online services, available for both home and library use.