The Douglas Library - Library History and Board of Trustees
By William R. Persing - Incorporating the original 1948 "History of the Douglas Library of Hebron" by Albert W. Hilding
The earliest recorded library association in Hebron was the Young Ladies Union Society, founded in 1844. Through the generosity of Benjamin A. Bissell, the Society was granted the use of the hall in "the brick house," later the home of Walter C. Hewitt. It had in common with similar organizations of that day the combined object of forming a library and of cultivation of conversations and literary taste. It should be noted that "gentlemen members" were admitted to that body on payment of double the regular dues (25 cents as opposed to 12 1/2 cents) and that "gentlemen members" outnumbered the ladies throughout its history.
The unbroken history of the Douglas Library began when, "on Thursday evening, December 7, 1876, eighteen young ladies and gentlemen assembled at the schoolhouse in Hebron Center for the purpose of organizing a Young People's Literary Club." Like its predecessors, this group emphasized cultural activities more than the formation of a library. Its announced purpose was "the improvement of its members in conversations, sociability, and literary achievements." Its meetings were enlivened by readings, recitations, charades, and debates upon such useful that wood, or whether farming in New England pays!
Later, at a date which cannot be exactly determined, the Hebron Literary Club became the Hebron Literary Society, with a new constitution, in which the growth and management of its library was given much greater prominence. This purpose seems to have languished, however, while the meetings continued to be largely of a social character.
Almost a decade later, on November 7th 1897, the Association met to discuss the erection of a library building. Both Dr. and Mrs. Charles J. Douglas had, since long before their marriage, been active members of the Literary Society and the Library Association. Mrs. Douglas now emerged as the moving spirit in the project of securing a library building and of giving, from it, public library services to the entire town of Hebron.
There were two leading sites for the Library, both in the center of Hebron: the Esther Buell house on Main Street, and the Eben Page property on Hebron Green. At first, sentiment in the Association favored the Buell house. On December 13th, 1897, the Association voted to authorize the Secretary to buy the Buell property, at a cost not to exceed $400. This he did. The next meeting promptly voted to rescind this decision, and decided to build a 22x30 building with 14-foot ports on the Page property, which had been offered to the Association free of charge. Exactly what internal politicking or disagreement lay behind this remarkable reversal has been lost with the years. But there is little doubt that the Association made the right decision in the end: the Page property's location, just across from the Town Hall, would prove to be very convenient.
The Douglas Library Board of Trustees
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