peterboroIn honor of National Library Week, we’ve compiled some interesting facts about New Hampshire and its libraries.
The beginning chapter of the NH State Library was established in 1717 and it is generally considered to be the oldest such institution in the United States.
In 1833 the first free public library in the United States was established in Peterborough, NH (in photo above). In addition Peterborough was the first Free Public Library in the world to be supported by taxation. The Boston Public Library which was America’s first large public library was not legally established until 1852, nineteen years after tiny Peterborough.In 1849, New Hampshire was the first state to pass a law permitting towns to appropriate money for the purchase of books and the maintenance of a building for the use of its people, thereby giving New Hampshire libraries assurance of some measure of public support.

The Tamworth Social Library, one of the four earliest social libraries established in the state, was founded by Parson Samuel Hidden in 1796 and was supported in its entirety by the pioneer members of this small, wilderness village. Then, in 1891, the New Hampshire legislature approved the Free Library Act, appointing a State Library commission and authorizing benefits to New Hampshire towns for the purpose of establishing free, public libraries. In February 1892, the Tamworth town warrant included an article “…to see if the town will vote to accept the provision of law, chapter 8, section 21-26, in regard to having a public library in town.” For more info,

Today there are 234 public libraries in NH, and 192 of them are current members of the NH Downloadable Books Consortium. There are approximately 121,169 public libraries in the United States, and 150,000 librarians employed nationally.

In 2012 our operating expenditures totaled $142,467.00, and according to the library use calculator, we totaled $473,084.00 in delivered library services and circulation.
Please support your local library.

National Library Week is April 14-21