This year the library is quietly marking its 125th anniversary. The anniversary offers us an opportunity to look back, take stock, and express our debt of gratitude to those individuals who laid the foundation for today’s library.
In 1888 Raynham was a village of some 2,000 souls. Although primarily agricultural, the town was beginning to blossom with small industry and had reached some measure of prosperity. There were churches and schools, iron works, tanneries, grist mills and small businesses. A trolley ran down the middle of Raynham’s Main Street connecting Taunton to Bridgewater – right past the site that would be used in 1949 for the construction of the library.
We must remember that in 1888 there were no televisions, movie theaters, computers or smartphones. The telephone was a relatively new invention. Reading, discussion groups and debating societies were popular diversions. A library would provide a constant source of enlightenment and entertainment. The 93 residents who came together in April of 1888 to form the Raynham Library Association saw a “great need for a well-equipped library” and sought to add “educational advantages” to the Town. Their commitment has passed from generation to generation. In the 125 years of operation, the library has grown and flourished with the Town.
It’s hard to imagine what the original founders would think of today’s library. I believe they would be pleased to know that what they started has continued; they would be pleased to know that the community still values “the educational advantages” of a public library, and they would be pleased to know that we remember them and are grateful.
As we look forward to the years ahead and to the many challenges facing public libraries, we can do so with a certain confidence. What began 125 years ago will continue; the mission has not changed. The library is part of the fabric and history of Raynham.