Library service began with the formation of the Hanson Temperance Library Association on August 17, 1882. Five officers were elected, and all books and pamphlets were owned by and only loaned to members. On August 24th, the 34 members purchased 10 books with the $15.94 collected as membership fees. On January 18, 1883, the Library moved to its first home, a closet in Soper’s Hall, built by J.A.Whitney. The group changed its name to the Hanson Library Association on June 5, 1884, and they soon made plans to purchase land and erect a building for a privately endowed library. Through the generosity of Elijah C. Thomas and his sister, Mrs. Rachel C. Cushing, the building, named Thomas Hall, was completed in 1884 for approximately $3500. In 1887, the Little Workers Sewing Circle, formed by five girls from South Hanson, purchased 152 books to start a library. With their encouragement, citizens of the area formed the Wampatuck Library Association on April 17, 1889. The Little Workers Sewing Circle’s books were given to the Association and housed in Wampatuck Hall.
By 1896, a North Branch of a town-funded library had been established at the store of E.F. Witherell, and the Library at Wampatuck Hall was given into the care of the town to create a South Branch. In 1902, the North Branch was moved to the home of librarian Mary Drew and her sister Evie Drew, who would become librarian after the death of her sister. However, due to the resignation in 1921 of Evie Drew, the town needed to find a new location for the North Branch. This was accomplished when the Hanson Library Association decided to turn over Thomas Hall, their books and all other personal property to the town, including a grandfather clock made by John Bailey (1770-1815) of Hanover, which keeps time in the Library today.
The North Branch of the Library remained in Thomas Hall until 1961, when an addition to the Indian Head School allowed the Library to move into space there. As part of the relocation, the South Branch was closed and its books were also moved to the new site. In 1984 the Library expanded into an adjoining classroom, but it became clear that additional room would be required to provide an adequate library for Hanson’s citizens. From 1960 to 1980 the population of Hanson doubled and the Board of Library Trustees realized that further expansion at the current location was impossible. Meanwhile, the Council for Elder Affairs had also outgrown their quarters located in the front of the Hanson Fire Station. The two groups joined forces in the mid-1980’s to begin the long process of constructing a joint facility on land donated by the Hanson School Department. The result is the Hanson Library/Senior Center that opened to the public in October 1991.
Careful planning created a building design expected to accommodate growth for many years to come. The long, narrow lot demanded a long, narrow building, which is ideal for the warm timber framed construction. Seating went from 16 to 78. The children have a storyhour room with a craft sink that opens into the Community Room, which can accommodate 80 people. The Marie McLaughlin Historical Room, named in honor of a former Trustee who served from 1950 to 1986, houses the Library’s historical and genealogical collections.
The Library joined the ABLE (Automated Bristol Library Exchange) network in July of 1993 and began the automation process on October 17, 1994. Subsequently, ABLE merged with another network, SEAL, to form the SAILS Library Network, which includes over 70 member libraries. Through our shared online catalog, patrons have access to the circulating collections of any SAILS member library and can place holds for pickup in Hanson. Items from other Massachusetts networks and from other states are also available through the Commonwealth Catalog and interlibrary loan.
Over the years the Library has expanded its offerings to include services such as free wi-fi, computer access, mobile hotspots, online databases, eBook collections, and programming for all ages. Services continue to evolve to ensure the Hanson Public Library remains a thriving center of activity for the community.
Hanson Town Reports
History of the Town of Hanson / compiled by the Hanson Historical Committee
Images of America: Hanson / by Donna McCulloch Brown