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Did You Know? Norwood’s First Library

Norwood's First Library Jabez Chickering Social Circulating 2022

The “cradle” of the is an old, blue, pine cabinet. It measures 6’ I/2” high, 3’ 5” wide, and 7′ 1/2″ deep and holds a collection of 95 volumes–mostly classics.

The book cabinet was originally owned by the Reverend , the minister ordained in the of Norwood. Reverend Balch placed the cabinet in his study when he assumed his church responsibilities in 1736.

Reverend , successor and son-in-law to the Reverend Balch, gave his personal to the church in 1790, and the church’s first library, called “” was founded. Twenty-seven of the parish, which represented almost every family in town, organized the library for “the purpose of gaining information and self-improvement.”

The collection was so limited that members drew lots to see which books they could read, and the books were checked out alphabetically. One record, dated 1792, reads, “21y That the first Wednesdays of Jany April, July & Ocr. shall be the times of taking out books – and that books be returned the before drawing one hour after sunset allowed for taking out as before..”

Norwood's First Library Jabez Chickering Social Circulating 1972
1972 photo of the Library cabinet, at the .

Fred Holland Day later purchased the cabinet, complete with the original books, and moved them to his home, the . Holland Day House. They remain on display at the Norwood Historical Society and are one of the highlights of our collection.

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