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Chronology of Significant Events and Innovations in the History of Memorial Hall Library


1866, April

The town of Andover voted to raise a sum of $4500 for a soldiers' monument for Civil War veterans.

1870, July

John Smith, head of Smith and Dove, a linen thread company in Andover, proposed to donate $25,000 providing the town would raise an equal amount to establish a library and reading room. The site suggested by Mr. Smith was the corner lot where Joseph Abbott's furniture shop stood which burned in 1866.


Subscriptions from town fell short and the decision was made to use the $4500 put aside for a Civil War Memorial. An additional $3000 for the purchase of books was given by Mr. John Byers in memory of Peter Smith Byers, first principal of the Punchard Free School.

1871, May

It was voted to employ J.F. Eaton as architect and the contract was awarded to Abbott and Jenkins for $27,750. Cornerstone laid Sept. 19, 1871 was a list of all the Andover men enrolled in the Army & Navy during the "War of the Rebellion" and of the 46 who gave their lives.


Town meeting appointed first board of trustees. During the summer, the Trustees purchased 2700 books for the foundation of the library.

1873, May

Mr. Ballard Holt, 2nd, was appointed librarian and janitor. He served until Sept. 1, 1906.

1873, May 30

Memorial Hall formally opened with a dinner, parade, and address by the orator Phillips Brooks. (See description in The Founding of the Memorial Hall by Mary Byers Smith. R027.4744 Andover Room)


Edna A. Brown became head librarian and Mr. Holt continued as janitor. Miss Brown was the author of numerous children's books.


A branch library was established in Ballardvale.


The building was remodeled. The Victorian roof line was modified to a more Georgian design and a Children's Room was added.


Miss Miriam Putnam was appointed Librarian director in 1939 and served until 1967.


Children's Room was enlarged and the work area increased. Architects: Coolidge and Carlson.


Reading room addition completed.


Miriam Putnam retired. A.J. Anderson became director, 1967-69. Memorial Hall named the Eastern Massachusetts Regional Center, one of seven subregions in the state. (June 11, 1967)


Fines eliminated 3/31/69 under A.J. Anderson. Frances Bold served as director, 1969-70.


Harry Sagris became director, 1971-74.


Nancy Jacobson was appointed director, 1974-1993.


Town purchased the Theater building behind the Library for land & parking.


Library received federal grant to start I&R program called ANSWERS.


Computer system installed/ Libs 100


MHL became the central site for the new Merrimack Valley Library Consortium. (25 members/11 dial-ups)


Old theater building torn down for new addition

1985, May

Ground broken for new addition. Architects: Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott. Contractor: Eastern Contractors, Inc.-Newton $5.2 million project

1988, October 30

Rededication of Memorial Hall Library included addition of rear wing and the renovation of the original building. Doubled the size to approx. 55,000 sq. ft.

1989 First "reference" computers added -- Infotrac and WilsonDisc CD-ROM magazine indexes


Ballardvale branch library closed 6/91.
Sunday hours saved, library closes Friday nights at 5:30.


Videocassettes offered for public checkout.


Nancy Jacobson retired, 5/93
CLCAT (menu-based computer upgrade) installed
Historic Footprints project started to landscape front of building to 1910 look. Bricks sold with donors' names.
Jim Sutton appointed Director, 9/93


Front foyer dedicated to Nancy Jacobson. Stenciling artist, Merilyn Markham Estenceler.
EBSCO donated 10 computers with our purchase of subscriptions to their CD-ROM indexes.


Library opens on Saturdays in the summer. Closed on Sunday July thru Labor day. Closed July 4th and Labor Day weekends.


Web based Internet for the public offered. MHL new homepage and web address announced
For the 350th Anniversary of Andover, Maribeth Edmonds produced a library video, The Life of the Library, with Jay Leno narrating. The staff created monthly historical displays and entered a float in the September parade. (Garden of Knowledge)


Massachusetts Regional Library System created to encompass 6 regions. Andover became Reference and Research Center for the Northeast Region (NMRLS) and ILL Center along with NOBLE headquarters.
CD-ROMs available for circulation.
MHL received a federal grant to establish a collection and programs for the Chinese and Russian communities.
Trustees purchase Pat Keck's sculpture Gargoyle.


12 new PCs installed in reference area with a menu front end.
Entire building rewired to support 10/100 Base T networking.
MediaOne internet access available in entire building.
Worked with Senior Center to bring new computers with internet access to the Senior Drop-In Center.
MVLC headquarters moved to a new location, 6/98 (123 Tewksbury St. Andover 01810)
Preliminary planning begins for expansion of Children's Room and YA area.
Trustees purchase David Sullivan's painting After Cezanne.

1999 Library web page has a major revision and expansion.
Books to Go collection established to make extra copies of bestsellers available.
Books on CD collection started to supplement books on tape.
Fees on feature videos discontinued.
Staff recognition awards instituted by the Trustees.
2000 DVD collection started.
NetLibrary collection purchased.
New epixtech library automation system implemented 12/00
2001 Epixtech patron empowerment features implemented -- patron placed reserves, renewals, online patron info, email notification
Trustees purchase two paintings by Sarah Lane (Shane) Crabtree
Library renovated to increase space for Children's and Young Adult activities
Library purchased circulating ebook devices and content
Library becomes first non-California public library to join 24/7 chat reference project
Library Foundation established
2002 Library is first library in MA to circulate MP3 audio devices and content
Library adds database functionality to web page
Library enhances young adult services, checking out laptops and adding staff to serve teen users in the Teen-Z room
2003 iPac2 library catalog with enhanced content implemented.
Library receives two grants from the Andover Home for the Aged to purchase audiobooks and to upgrade computers at the Senior Computer Center.
Library launches the online Andover Forum.
Library offers WiFi internet access.
2004 New standards-based web page introduced
New "To-Go" browsing collections implemented
2005 Reference renamed Information Services; Circulation renamed Customer Services
New Information Services and Customer Services desks installed
New signage installed
Slatwall panels installed on Fiction and Nonfiction shelving units
2006 Overdrive downloadable audiobooks added
Andover Answers wiki started
2007 WiFi extended to the entire building
Andover Room rebuilt with archival shelving and new HVAC system
Self-checkout station added to Children's Room
2008 Polar Bear Sculpture installed in the front of the Library
2009 Energy efficient lighting installed all over library
First "Andover Reads" program - The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
Teen Room "The Jim" dedicated to retiring Library Director, James E. Sutton
Beth Mazin appointed Library Director
Facebook, Twitter, Text Reference services offered
James Sutton inducted into the Massachusetts Library Association Hall of Fame
2010 Library's original slate roof replaced with a new slate roof in the same pattern as the original. NMRLS region disbands and MHL transitions to no longer being a regional provider of reference and interlibrary loan services. Library accelerates acquisition of downloadable e-content.
2011 MVLC migrated to Evergreen library automation system. Self check-out stations added to the Circulation Room. Patron self-pickup of holds implemented. Circulation Room renovated. Gas fireplace installed. Main Street entrance plaza area replanted. DVD rental fees eliminated. Pearson Street parking lot opened. Library served as refuge during the Halloween Storm.
2012 Ground Floor renovated. Patio created at the back entrance. Electronic bulletin boards installed as part of MA Community Innovation Challenge Grant. Second Andover Reads galaxy of programs (The Book Thief). Reference Area painted.
2013 Trustees purchased Paul Endres' painting St. Abigail's Day. Bee Hive makerspace started. Materials return moved to the parking lot. A/V presentation functionality upgraded in Memorial Hall and the Activity Room. Lower Level corridor and Level 2 patron area painted. Monumental Elm Tree banner installed on back exterior brick wall.
2014 Level 2 Quiet Study space and TPD staff space renovated. Unique Andover history items digitized and included in the Digital Public Library of America. Essex Street side of Library landscaped. Open Summer Sundays for the first time. Memorial Hall wool carpeting replaced with identical Axminster design. Lincoln portrait stabilized and digitzed.


Last updated: September 19, 2014
Memorial Hall Library   2 N. Main Street   Andover, MA 01810   p:978-623-8400   f:978-623-8407