A short history of the Flint Public Library 1891-2016
Celebrating 125 years of service to the community!
Middleton has always been interested in maintaining a library for its citizens. As early as 1772, a social library was founded by the Reverend Elias Smith. In 1838, another library association was established by Dr. E.S. Phelps with 46 members and 84 volumes, but it was short-lived. The present Flint Library originated as an association formed in 1865 with John M. Peabody as President. This association flourished and was turned over to the town in 1879 after the Honorable Charles L. Flint, the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture, wrote a letter to the Selectmen of Middleton suggesting that notice be taken of the 150th anniversary of incorporation of the Town by establishing a Public Town Library, free to all. Mr. Flint offered $1,000.00 to help start a library provided the Town would appropriate $400.00 for necessary expenses. This Public Town Library was housed upstairs in the Old Town Hall on Maple Street, which is now the Middleton Senior Center.
In 1889, $10,000 was bequeathed to the town under the will of the Honorable Charles L. Flint for the purposes of erecting a permanent building for use as a free public library. Located in Middleton Square, so that it could be centrally sited, the library was built of brick with Nova Scotia sandstone trimmings and a slate roof. The interior finish is of cypress, with birch floors and furniture of highly polished oak. In addition, a gift of $10,000, known as the B. F. Emerson Fund became available in 1888 donated by B. F. Emerson, a Middleton native. Three beautiful stained glass windows, designed by Mr. Donald MacDonald, of Boston, were installed in the library. The window in the Reading Room was donated by J. N. Smith in memory of his wife Caroline Fuller Smith of Middleton. The window in the Trustees Room was donated by Mrs. Joseph Smith in honor of her father, Jesse Fuller. She also donated the floral art square window also in the Trustees Room. Just before completion of the library, George Fuller donated the tower clock which still operates and is a hand-wound 8-day clock manufactured by the E. Howard Company in Boston. When the library was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1891, the entire book collection amounted to 5,000 volumes, representing accumulations from earlier private library associations and the personal library and writings of Charles L. Flint.
In 2006, the library underwent a large expansion, renovation and restoration project which tripled the usable space in the library. On the ground level there is a Children’s Room and a large meeting room. The Teen Area and Adult Stacks are on the upper level as well as staff offices and a processing area. The original area of the building is now the Computer Area, and holds the Reference books, Large Print books, audio books and paperbacks. The renovation included the restoration of the three stained glass windows which are a source of pride to the town, and admired for their vibrant colors and artistic beauty. Due to careful planning, and attention to detail, the original area of the library retained much of its historic charm. The library has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2002.
Presently, the library contains more than 60,000 books, 3,500 DVDs, 2,000+ audio books, a vast collection of music CD’s and subscriptions to more than 450 periodicals. Patrons also have access to more than 65,000 eBooks, audio books or video downloads. Seventeen computers are available to the public for Internet searching and MS Office products. Annually, the library hosts more than 350 programs dedicated to cultural, recreational or educational subjects. For preschool children, there are many early literacy, music and art programs on a weekly basis as well as many other children’s programs for all age groups. The library is committed to promoting reading and literacy to the community’s youth. Maintaining a cooperative relationship with Middleton’s educational institutions, the Flint Public Library works closely with the schools on a variety of programs, and an afterschool bus stops at the library so children can use the library resources for homework or to attend afterschool programs. The library also is committed to delivering library materials to the elderly and homebound via the Outreach Program.
The library boasts healthy circulation and attendance statistics with more than half of its nearly 9,000 residents owning library cards. The library participates in a regional consortium wherein books at other libraries, both public and academic, can be located and borrowed by Middleton residents at no cost. The Flint Public Library makes its resources available to the community 51 hours per week, and online resources are available via the Internet 24/7.
The library is supported through the Town of Middleton and overseen by an elected Board of Library Trustees, elected for three-year terms and responsible for overseeing policy decisions and advising in the preparation of the budget. The Trustees advocate for the library and help secure adequate funds to finance the approved budget. The day-to-day operation of the library is entrusted to the Library Director. The Friends of the Flint is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that raises money to help support the mission of the library and to promote its visibility in the community. The Friends provide funding for many of the library’s programs and they support the Museum Pass program that provides passes to many major museums and activities in the surrounding communities and the Boston area.
2016 marks 125 years that the Flint Public Library has been providing wonderful library programs and excellent library services to the community!
A portrait of Charles Flint hangs in the Library Reading Room