Before there was a West Branch...

West Branch Somerville Public Library

Before the West Branch library got a proper building in 1909, library service in West Somerville (and in East, North and South Somerville) was delivered by partnerships with local businesses, which became the early branches - then usually called agencies - of the SPL. These agencies served as pickup/dropoff points for library books, but for the most part provided no reading rooms or other library services.

In 1896 the library trustees voted to establish an agency for West Somerville at what is now the corner of College Avenue and Winter Street in Davis Square. Its first host business was Creighton & Clark, a stationery and confectionery shop operated by Harriet Creighton and Margaret Clark. More agencies followed around the city, including one just a few minutes from our temporary West Branch location - Mrs. Young’s notion store at 243 Holland Street, serving Teele Square and Clarendon Hill.

By 1903, according to then-Mayor Glines, SPL was second only to the Boston Public Library in number of books checked out. It was around this time that residents of West Somerville began to appeal to the board of trustees for a full-service branch library as well.

In September of 1909, Hattie wrote a picture postcard of the library to her friend Gertrude: “Our new library is about ten minutes’ walk from the house. Our cards have been transferred and can now take books from here. It is much smaller than the Somerville library...but then the walking part is very much better.” See Hattie's postcard and more photos on our Flickr page:

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