Celebrations are in order for Manchester New Hampshire’s Public Library. The current building, originally called the Carpenter Memorial Library, is 100 years old on November 18, 2014 (using the dedication day of November 18, 1914 when 5,000 people assembled for its opening). However, the library history of Manchester goes much further back, when the area was part of the small village of Derryfield. Although the current library edifice is wonderful even today, an important part of its history would have to include people and events that appear earlier on Manchester’s timeline.
If we count back to the earliest library in old Manchester in 1795, we should now be celebrating 219 years; and if to the opening of the Manchester Athenaeum in 1844, then 170 years. Both of these early libraries were private, owned by groups of Manchester area people who pooled money and resources with subscription rights to use them. In addition to the libraries highlighted in this article, there were several other ‘reading rooms,’ in the city, hosted by a variety of groups and mostly closed except to members.
If we count back to the year that Manchester’s library first became public, then September 6, 1854 should be celebrated with an anniversary of 160 years. The Library is now already mid-way through its year of celebration, with a Library Foundation Gala on September 23rd, and an Open House on October 18th from 5-7 PM. The Manchester Historic Association has a holiday ornament depicting the library planned for sale.