Belding Memorial Library

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The Belding Memorial Library is a public library in Ashfield, Massachusetts.[1]


Former Ashfield public library building in 1899

"The Ashfield Library Association was formed in 1866, through the influence of Prof. Charles Eliot Norton and Hon. George William Curtis, summer residents of the town. It absorbed the books formerly belonging to the Second Social Library of Ashfield [est. 1815] ... and these volumes, with liberal donations from the gentlemen above named, formed the nucleus of the library."[2]

Around 1911 "Andrew Carnegie ... offered to give $3,000 for a library building, on the usual terms, but there [was] opposition to accepting the offer."[3]

The current building was donated in 1913 by silk manufacturer M.M. Belding, a New Yorker.[4][5] At the time, Belding's gift was considered particularly generous: "The announcement that the little town of Ashfield in Western Massachusetts -- a town once famous for its summer colony of learning and culture ... -- is to be presented with a 30,000-dollar public library by a filially affectionate native of the place, Mr. M.M. Belding of New York, prompts the query whether a little farming community of less than a thousand inhabitants, barely making its rock-ribbed acres yield it a livelihood, will thoroughly enjoy the prospect of maintaining the splendid institutions whose marble walls, bronze doors, pedestal lamps, and other luxurious appurtenances, will present an appearance so strikingly at variance with their simple rural environment."[6]

The Belding Public Library will typify, and more than typify, the progressive spirit of Massachusetts in respect to free libraries for all the people.

— The Dial, Sept. 16, 1913


  1. ^ Retrieved 05-18-2010
  2. ^ Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts. 1899.
  3. ^ Report of the Free Public Library Commission of Massachusetts, Jan. 1911
  4. ^ Bulletin of the American Library Association, March 1914.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-06-02. 
  6. ^ The Dial, Sept. 16, 1913

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Coordinates: 42°31′34″N 72°47′40″W / 42.5262°N 72.7944°W / 42.5262; -72.7944