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Friends of the Newark Free Library

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NEWARK FREE LIBRARY 

The first written record of a library in Newark was in a book of minutes dating from December 14, 1858 to March 18, 1862. The subscription library was called the Newark Library and Literary Association

In 1878 the library was named the Newark Library Association. The library was in a section of Wilbur T. Wilson’s store. Mr. Wilson served as volunteer librarian.

The library was later located in the East Side of Odd Fellows Hall.

In 1893 eight Newark women formed a reading club called the Tuesday Club, which was the beginning of the New Century Club. Five of these women worked in the Newark Library Association in a second story room donated by Mr. Wilson. They collected books, solicited contributions and took turns acting as librarian. Users were charged a one-dollar membership fee.

The library moved frequently among various business locations.

In 1917 it moved to the New Century Club and in 1920 to the Newark Academy Building.

In 1932 the Newark Town Library was reorganized and made a free public library instead of a subscription library.

In 1954 the Newark League of Women Voters did a formal study of the library. Library supporters began talking about the need for a larger library.

In 1957, after much fund raising St. Thomas Episcopal Church at the corner of Elkton Road and West Delaware Avenue was purchased and converted to a library. Later a small brick house next to the library on Elkton Road was purchased by the Library commission and opened as a children’s library in 1964.

In 1967, first full time, professionally trained librarian was employed.

On March 24, 1966, approximately 100 charter members formally organized "Friends of the Newark Free Library" to promote knowledge and understanding of the functions, resources, services and needs of the library; to encourage gifts, endowments, and bequests to the library; and to help the library develop its services and facilities for the Newark community.  

The Friends provided financial support as well as countless hours of volunteer labor to the Newark Library.

1969 Library Commission purchased approximately three acres at the intersection of East Main Street and Delaware Avenue (the site of the current library).

1973 After countless delays a ground breaking ceremony was held

1974 The Newark Free Library was dedicated

2001 expansion and renovation was approved for the current library and completed in 2003.

This is a synopsis from the booklet “History the Newark Library” by Jane M. Tripp, 2001. 

It is available for purchase for $5 plus $1postage and mailing from Judy Taggart, President, and Friends of the Newark Free Library

Friends of the Newark Free Library records 1966?2005 posted in the University of Delaware Archive Collection

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