- Our Mission Statement
- History of LPL
Library Director's Message
Welcome to the Lawrence Public Library's web page, your online guide to the services available at your library.
Use our online catalog to browse through our extensive collections of books, magazines, videos, DVDs, CDs and special collection material.
Our monthly calendar will inform you of all the special events, classes and programs offered by the library. You can order materials from any of the libraries in our consortium with our easy-to-use online interlibrary loan system or use any of our consortium's research databases by simply entering your library card number.
This is your library and our material and services are available to all our citizens. Take advantage of them by visiting us at one of our two Lawrence locations or visit us remotely through this site. Give us your ideas and we will continue to grow and change as our community does the same.
Jessica Valentin, Director Lawrence Public Library
Who are the Trustees?
The Library is under the management and control of its Board of Trustees. This board consists of the Mayor, three trustees of the White Fund (these members are ex-officio) and five citizens appointed by the Mayor according to the City Charter. The board meets in the library boardroom on the 3rd Tuesday of the month.
The FRIENDS of the Lawrence Public Library are a nonprofit, volunteer organization consisting of
a group of people who support our library. This support makes it possible for the library to improve their public service programs for adult and children, as well as museum passes, computers, and furniture for the Library. Membership is open to anyone who is interested in improving the growth of our library.
What do the FRIENDS do?
- Provide volunteer assistance for special library projects.
- Raise funds to provide extra services.
- Fund museum passes.
- Fund educational programs.
Visit the Friends of the Library Gift Shop at the Main Library's Circulation Desk
Our Mission Statement
The freedom to pursue knowledge is a foundation of our democracy. The Lawrence Free Public Library, an essential public institution, strives to serve as an accessible and responsive information and literary center for all residents of the Lawrence community. Through its evolving collection of materials and an abiding concern for its customers, the Library exists to preserve the free development and expression of ideas essential for an informed citizenry.
(Adopted by Board of Trustees, 9/20/94)
A History of the Lawrence Public Library
The Association was the sole literary society in Lawrence for many years. The "Lawrence Athenaeum" instituted a course of lectures for two seasons, and the "Lawrence Lyceum" held a series of lectures for approximately the same number of seasons. Both of these societies merged into the Franklin Library Association. A series of twelve lectures a year was then sustained for several years. Partially because there was a registration fee for all members, most of the patrons of the Association were upper class citizens and those persons employed in the "professional" sector. Working class people were not very active either in attending the Association's lectures or in making use of its book collection.
In the early years of the Association, the Honorable Daniel A. White of Salem, Massachusetts set up the White Fund, the money to be used for the purchase of books and other library materials.
When the library and funds of the Association were turned over to the City in 1872, the White Fund was instrumental in the establishment of the Free Public Library. At that point, Trustees of the White Fund proposed to contribute $1,000 annually to the Library for the purchase of books and other needed materials.
The Free Public Library first opened its doors on December 2, 1872 in rented quarters in the Saunders Block at 240 Essex Street. The first floor of the building was used for reading and general delivery, and the second floor contained a 250-person capacity auditorium that was used for lectures, meetings and forums. The first Librarian was William A. Fletcher, who was then followed by Frederic K. Hedge, who held that position for 27 years.
With the establishment of the Free Public Library, the collection and materials became available to all residents of Lawrence. Registration grew quickly as more and more working class people made use of the library's ever expanding materials. Three years after the library first opened, due to the lack of accommodations for the increased collection and patronage, the Library was removed from the Saunders Block to larger quarters in the Odd Fellows block. As of 1873, the total number of volumes in the Library numbered 11,624.z
In 1892, a new library building on the corner of Hampshire and Haverhill Streets was opened to the public. Originally costing $50,000, it was later expanded in 1902 at an additional cost of $37,300. The White Fund generously provided the money for the construction and expansion. By 1923, the Library contained approximately 84,000 volumes, a notable reference department and very modern facilities. In addition, the owners of the Pacific Mills donated all the volumes from their company's library, which further enhanced the Lawrence Public Library's collection. The first branch opened in South Lawrence (on South Broadway) on August 1, 1898. The current branch library on Parker Street was established in 1927.
The White Fund held title to the Main Library until 1937 when the Trustees turned ownership over to the City. When that building was sold in 1974, the proceeds of the sale were used to establish an endowment for the Public Library as had been specified by the Trustees of the White Fund in 193.
In 1965, a proposal for a new library facility got underway. The idea was that the new facility be a complete center of learning and information to the patrons and residents of Lawrence. Facilities such as Exhibit Rooms, a Business Section, Audio-Visual Services, and special accommodations for advanced students and adults were all included in the planning of the new building. The projected space needs for the new facility were based on the assumption that 250,000 volumes would have to be accommodated by 1985.
Spaciousness, plenty of reading and browsing room, as well as easy access to all library materials were major concerns in the design and architecture of the proposed facility.
On June 10, 1973, the new Lawrence Public Library was officially opened on the corner of Lawrence and Haverhill Streets. The new building was 55,238 square feet in area, and the entire project cost $2,421,169. There was a total seating capacity (for readers and staff) of 760, plus the Irving W. Sargent Auditorium, which has seats for 270 more persons.
The library has progressed with the times since the opening of the current facility. Our third floor, which houses the administrative offices of the library, has been used, until recently, as rental space. The space has been used by Northern Essex Community College and by the Americorps/Youthbuild program. Renovation projects in 1999, 2000 and 2005/6 have resulted in a modified plaza-style entry area with a semicircular driveway, a new parking area on the corner of Haverhill and Lawrence Streets, complete re-carpeting of the entire facility, a new meeting room dedicated to the poet Robert Frost and the addition of a local history room. These two latter additions are on the third floor area mentioned above. The Library has continued in its core mission of collecting books and periodicals considered most enjoyable and beneficial to our community. We have also greatly expanded the formats available in our collection. The collection now includes computer software, videos, DVDs, CDs as well as an extensive collection of microform materials for historical and genealogical research. The Library houses a sixteen station computer lab in its main facility adult services area, as well as four stations in the Children’s room and eight more in our Branch Library.
As a member of the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium and the Northeast Massachusetts Regional Library System, the Lawrence Public Library is able to offer quality online databases to its patrons as well as take part in the interlibrary loan program run through the entire state. The current library administration has made educational purchasing a high priority particularly in the area of free, library card accessible online services, available for both home and library use.
The Library is under the management and control of its Board of Trustees. This board consists of the Mayor, three trustees of the White Fund (these members are ex-officio) and five citizens elected by the city council.
The Library's annual budget is made up by the Library administration and the city’s Budget and Finance Director . It is then adopted by a majority vote of the city council.