Wadleigh Memorial Library

Wadleigh Memorial Library

It was July 20th, 1950, when spectators turned out for the dedication of the brand-new Wadleigh Memorial Library and the remarks made on that occasion certainly speak to the fears of the time. About 150 locals gathered for punch and snacks and to tour the new building just across Nashua Street from old library - what one speaker referred to "A strangely designed library building attached to the east end of our...town hall." The new structure, named after its donor, Fannie Boynton Wadleigh, was a stand-alone building set to host some 20,000 books.

Both speakers at the occasion, A.B. Rotch and John McLane, spoke of the times. Rotch commented that "We find ourselves in probably the most perilous days since the dawn of civilization. The whole world seems hopelessly divided and science has furnished weapons capable of destroying not only armies but entire populations." It was truth, knowledge and public libraries that might rescue us from such perilousness, he posited. Mr. McLane also seemed to have world events on his mind as he compared the new, free library to the burning of books in "totalitarian countries." McLane also proved himself an able prognosticator, predicting a time when films might occupy a place in the library and a "federation of libraries" might provide access to more materials. Both of these developments would come to pass even as the danger posed by totalitarian countries and nuclear annihilation would fade.

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