The Franklin Free Library has always relied on the kindness of its patrons. But, when was it started? It exists as a testimony to the generosity of the many people who have donated their time and money to insure that the people of Franklin have a library that they can call their own. But who were some of these people? And what did they do? Let’s start at the beginning.
Some have placed the first library in Franklin in 1796, but details or documents supporting the existence of this early library, barely three years after the first town meeting, cannot be located.
Records do exist showing that a town library was founded in 1828 with Dr. John Hozen as its librarian; in 1840, Albert Noble held the position. The last entry contained in the journal which is the source of these facts is dated March 8, 1842. There is no mention of where this library was located or what its charter might have been.
The library that graces Main Street today and serves the town’s residents is first referred to in April, 1877, when an editorial in The Delaware Dairyman suggests, “A circulating library would, we think, be a very valuable addition to our village convenience and would be quite extensively patronized.”
Its actual creation came about as the result of the work of two organizations. One of these, the Excelsior Society, a literary group, began in the Delaware Literary Institute. The other, the Village Improvement Society (VIS), was founded in 1903 and existed until 1914. The initial purpose of this second group was to clear old trees and plant new ones, as well as make sure public places were clean. Under the leadership of Amelia Jennings, the members sought to improve not only Franklin’s physical appearance but also the knowledge of its citizens. They sponsored lectures, educational courses and the like. So it should not be surprising that the Franklin newspaper, The Dairyman, wrote on May 18, 1906, “Why not secure a lot for the public library building which we expect to have in Franklin? It would be a safe investment and give to the Village Improvement Society a worthy project for which to work.”
The story of the library would be incomplete without calling attention again to the generosity of the many people who have helped maintain the Franklin Free Library. The list of all the individuals involved would be far too long and the possibility of overlooking someone far to great for us to even attempt to mention every name.
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