At the annual meeting on March 8, 1892 the citizens of Pelham voted to establish a Free Public Library, and elected a three-member Board of Trustees. The library officially opened for business about January 17, 1893. Miss Mary Edna Hobbs was appointed librarian with an annual salary of $20. By March 1, 1894, at the end of its first full year of service, the library had issued 137 library cards; held a total collection of 629 books; circulated – or “delivered” – 2,420 books; and collected $10.06 in fines. Appointed when she was eighteen years old, Miss Hobbs, known to many as “Aunt Molly,” served as librarian until July 31, 1958 – over 65 years! By then the library owned 6,654 books with an annual circulation of 6,004; there were 166 registered borrowers; and the librarian’s salary rose to $400 per year.
In 1893, the library was set up in a corner of the Town Hall. A library building was constructed in 1896 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the town and honor Pelham’s war veterans. That one-storey brick structure was designed with a main “Memorial Room,” a book stack area, and Town Officers’ Room. The square footage of the building was doubled in 1975 by renovating the unfinished cellar to create a Children’s Room, staff workroom and periodical storage. The library had long-outgrown the 1896 building when the present 10,000 square-foot facility was completed in August 2003.
Conveniently located off Route 111-A (Marsh Road) at the new Village Green municipal complex, the library has over 30,000 items in its collection searchable from the comfort of home via the online catalog. In addition to a growing collection of audiobooks, DVDs and large print books, the library subscribes to over 70 magazines and six daily newspapers. Thanks to the generosity of our Friends of the Library and the PES PTA, the library has passes to a variety museums and cultural institutions. The library also offers a variety of programs for patrons of all ages.
Library membership is free to all Pelham residents, 6 years of age and older. Non-residents who own property in Pelham, work for the Town, or attend school in Pelham may also be issued a card at no initial cost. Library cards are available to non-residents for an annual fee of $25.
Photo © Doug Rennie