Mission & History

Mission

To educate, inform, enrich and inspire.

Vision

To create innovative opportunities that enrich the lives of Bridgewater residents as a center for information and discovery that inspires curiosity and leads to learning experiences for patrons of all ages.


Library HistorySouth Street facade of Bridgewater Public Library building

Plans for the Bridgewater Public Library began in 1879 when a group of citizens presented a library report to the Town of Bridgewater. The Town voted to form a Board of Trustees and granted the Library use of the Town House (now referred to as the Old Town Hall). Lydia L. Lewis was elected librarian, and the Library began operating out of a rented room in the Town House on July 12, 1879. Over 11,000 books circulated in the first six months of operation.

In 1881 the Town began discussing the construction of a permanent facility for the Library. In March they voted “to proceed at once to construct a building for the purpose of commemorating our citizens in times of national peril and providing a suitable hall for the library and for such objects of history or scientific interest as may come into possession of the Town.” The Town purchased the lot at what is now 25 South Street and began construction of the Library’s new home, the Memorial Building. The cornerstone was laid on August 31, 1881, and the building was dedicated on Memorial Day 1882.
 

Library construction 1971

In 1956 the library collection had outgrown the Memorial Building, and the children’s collection moved to the Academy Building, now the Bridgewater Town Hall, to free up some space. By the late 1960s, the collection had once again grown past the spatial limitations of the Memorial Building, and the Town began planning for a new library building, made possible through a bequest from Flora T. Little. The Little fund paid for 86% of the structure's cost.

The Bridgewater Public Library moved into the new building at 15 South Street at the end of December 1972, and the building was dedicated the following June. In the 1990s the building was renovated and expanded, during which time the Library operated out of the Winter Place shopping center. Construction began in May 1994, and in March 1995 the Library returned to 15 South Street.

View of Library from Academy Building fountain

The new facility and subsequent expansion allowed the Library to increase programming to include lectures, crafts, and film screenings, all of which continue to this day. Today the collection includes over 3.5 million physical and digital assets combined.

The Bridgewater Public Library, a member of the SAILS Library Network, provides access to the collections of around 70 area libraries. It houses historical Bridgewater collections including photographs, manuscripts, books, and artifacts, and offers programs for residents of all ages. As a vital community center, the Library has continued to provide excellent service while maintaining the delicate balance of preserving its rich history and embracing new technologies of the future.