Franklin Public Library – Franklin, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

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Franklin Public Library

Franklin, Massachusetts

America's first public lending library began with a gift from Benjamin Franklin. 

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Franklin Public Library was the first public lending library in America. When it was established in 1778, the town’s designated name was to be Exeter. But the citizens opted to call the town Franklin, after founding father Benjamin Franklin. The town then asked Franklin to donate a bell for a church, but he donated books instead, and asked that they be used to create a library. The town agreed, and in 1790 voted to lend the books to all Franklin inhabitants free of charge, creating the first public lending library in America.

When it was first established, the library was stored in Franklin’s meeting house. In 1904, the library moved into a separate, permanent building for the library collection. Though the library has moved from its original building, the 116 books donated by Benjamin Franklin are still on display inside. 

Know Before You Go

The side entrance is more accessible to those with mobility issues. The books donated by Benjamin Franklin are displayed on the second floor and there is an elevator inside. 

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