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Timeline of Library Locations and Branches

1860 - First Home of Worcester Public Library

The second floor to the Worcester Bank Block on Foster Street was the temporary home of the Worcester Public Library while the new library was being built on Elm Street. It housed a large part of Dr. Green’s collection, as well as the collections of the Worcester Lyceum and Library Association, which included the former Young Men’s Library Association collection. This location closed in 1861 in preparation for the move to the new Elm Street library building.

1862 - First Worcester Public Library

The cornerstone for the new library was laid on July 4, 1860. When the first Worcester Public Library opened on Elm Street in 1862, all of the collections were moved into the new building, which cost over $30,000 to build. The library housed the Reference, or Green Collection, and the Circulating Collection from the Worcester Lyceum and Library Association, which were also from Dr. John Green’s personal library, as well as several other smaller collections including the Worcester District Medical Society, the Worcester Farmer’s Club Library and the Cabinet and Library of the Worcester Natural History Society. According to the Annual Report of the Directors, January 1863, the Free Public Library contained over 10,000 volumes in the Green Library/Permanent Collection, and 6,077 books in the circulation collection.

1891 - Addition to the Elm Street Library

By the late 1880’s the first library was too small, and on April 1, 1891 the city opened an addition to the first building. This addition more than doubled the library’s size and provided a separate space for a growing Children’s Department, an improved Circulation Department, as well as an expanded Reading room for patrons using the Library’s magazine and newspaper collection, "The best and most prominent papers and periodicals in this country and Europe.”

1914 - Carnegie Branches

Early in the 20th Century, there was a growing recognition that the library needed to expand into the City’s neighborhoods. This need was answered with $75,000 from Andrew Carnegie and the donation of land by local businesses and industries. The three Carnegie branch libraries, Greendale, Quinsigamond and South Worcester, all opened in February of 1914. Andrew Carnegie attended all three cornerstone layings in March 1913.

South Worcester Branch Library was designed by Henry D. Whitefield at 705 Southbridge Street, land donated by Matthew J. Whitall and Alfred Thomas.

Greendale Branch Library was designed by Lucius Briggs at 470 West Boylston Street, land donated by Allen Higgins Co., Osgood Bradley Co., Heald Machine Co., Morgan Machine Co., Norton Grinding Co., American Pressed Steel Corp., A.S. Walker Co., and Young Brothers.

The The Quinsigamond Branch (photo above) was designed by Fuller and Delano at 830 Millbury Street, land donated by American Steel and Wire. It is now part of the Quinsigamond Elementary School.

1928 - Billings Square Branch

Billings Square Branch, located on Hamilton Street at the intersection of Grafton and Hamilton Streets, opened in 1928.

1940 - Tatnuck Branch and the First Bookmobile

Tatnuck Branch, located in the lower level of the Tatnuck Square Elementary School on Pleasant Street, was opened in 1940. Branches in this time focused on service to children, providing books and programs for school age children, along with serving the City’s large ethnic populations. Books were purchased in over 15 languages, representing the ethnic focus of the neighborhoods (French, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Finnish, Lithuanian, Swedish, Hungarian, Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Yiddish, Portuguese, and Greek).

The Worcester Public Library's first Bookmobile was launched on Monday, November 18, 1940 to further expand access to library services into every corner of the City.

1945 - Main South Branch

The Main South Branch, at various locations on Main Street, first opened in 1945.

1964 – NEW LIBRARY OPENS AT SALEM SQUARE

In 1964, a new library was completed at 3 Salem Square, as part of the Salem Square Redevelopment Project. The new building was designed to address the issue of overcrowding at the Elm Street Library location. This new location offered 97,000 square feet of floor space for materials, programming, and services.

1981 - Great Brook Valley Branch

The Great Brook Valley Branch, located in the Great Brook Valley housing complex on Tacoma Street, opened in 1981. Worcester Housing Authority provides the library with space in a renovated townhouse.

1994 - Greendale renamed Frances Perkins Branch

The former Greendale Branch was renamed in 1994 to honor Frances Perkins, who grew up in Worcester and was the first woman cabinet member, serving as Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor.

2001 – MAIN LIBRARY RENOVATION PROJECT

The renovation of the Main Library from 1999 to 2001 increased the capacity of the building by 50,000 square feet, making a total of 147,000 square feet of space available for library services. Principal features of the project included a four-story ellipse, a new main entrance across from the municipal parking lot, and a covered walkway along the Salem Street side of the building, which opened to a second entrance.

2012 - Mobile Library Express launched

The first mobile library service in the city in 20 years, Library Express or "Libby" began operating on Monday, June 4, 2012. In January of 2018, a new and improved “Libby” hit the road with a mural by artist Key Detail.

2013 - One City, One Library Initiative

One City, One Library is a collaboration of the city, schools, public library and community of Worcester to bring public library services and resources to the families of and communities surrounding public schools. Between 2013 and 2016, Worcester Public Library opened four branches in public elementary schools: Roosevelt Branch, Tatnuck Magnet Branch, Goddard Branch, and Burncoat Branch.

2014 – “LILLY” MOBILE LIBRARY LAUCHED

Due to the success of the “Libby” Mobile Express, an additional bookmobile “Lilly” launched in January of 2014. This second Mobile Library contains books, audiobooks, and DVDs for preschoolers through teenagers, as well as storytime kits for parents and caregivers to borrow.

2021 – “WRITING THE NEXT CHAPTER” RENOVATION PROJECT

The second renovation of the Main Library was completed in 2021, with the majority of the work taking place during a global pandemic. The renovation created a new front door on Franklin Street, enclosed the covered walkway creating an additional 8,000 square feet of space, which allowed for the creation of a digital studio, Fletcher Family Innovation Center, Hanover Teen Space, and Newspapers & Magazines area, as well as an updated audiovisual area, Friends Bookstore, Worcester Talking Book Library, and New Americans Corner. The project also moved the children’s area to the third floor creating a new Arthur M. and Martha R. Pappas Children’s Center.

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