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MISSION: The North Adams Public Library is a welcoming haven for all, connecting our community to each other and the world. The library empowers individuals and families, providing equitable access to information, education, and entertainment.

VISION: The North Adams Public Library is a trusted space working to enhance our community’s sense of wellbeing, safety, and inclusivity.

A Brief History of the Library

1884: The town voted the sum of $2500 to establish and maintain a public library in rented rooms in the Davenport Block on Main St. The former North Adams Library Association donated its collection of 4,750 volumes to the new library.

1892: The library moved to rooms in the Richardson House at the corner of North Church and East Main Streets.

1896: The Honorable Albert C. Houghton, 1st mayor of North Adams, purchased the former Sanford Blackinton residence and gave it to the city for a public library as a memorial to his brother Andrew Jackson Houghton. Mr. Houghton also donated $10,000 to make the building suitable for use as a library.

1898: The library moved into the Houghton Memorial Building. For the first time, a card catalog of volumes owned was available to the public, and patrons were allowed to visit the stacks for their own books.

1900: Williams Arthur Gallup gave $500 to furnish a Reading Room for Children. At the time the room was established, girls exchanged their books on Tuesdays and Fridays, and boys visited the library on Mondays and Thursdays.

1930’s: During the depression, the library served as a place of warmth and welcome to hundreds of residents out of work.

2000: In 1933 the library had installed a charging machine; in 2000, a mere 67 years later, systems became fully automated and the NAPL joined C/W MARS, becoming “a library without walls.”

2003: After over 100 years in the same space, the library closed for renovation. Staff and materials moved to temporary quarters in the Willow Dell (former Wall-Streeter Shoe Co. factory.)

2005: The NAPL opened its doors once more to a newly renovated and much larger building. It was the first “green” library in Massachusetts, with solar panels on the roof and geothermal heat pumps in the basement. The library received Leed certification and will continue to meet the needs of patrons for the next 100 years.

2020-2021: While the physical building did close along with other city and private properties during the COVID-19 pandemic, library staff rose to the occasion. Services were adapted, and the community continued to depend on the NAPL for reliable information, and for a chance to borrow books, videos, and audiobooks, and escape from day-to-day stresses. Other than curbside pickup, the first service restored was access to computers, printers, and faxing; all things the community was much in need of. 

Pandemic highlights:

March 16 - 20, 2020: Library doors closed. Curbside service instituted.

March 23, 2020: All City staff sent home. Library staff worked from home, with weekly online meetings. Over time, staggered shifts began in the building. 

June 16, 2020: Curbside services start up again, 9.5 hours per week. Partnership with the North Adams Council on Aging provides home delivery and return of materials (regardless of patron age) twice a week within the community.

June 29, 2020: Delivery between CW MARS libraries resumes for the NAPL.

October 19, 2020: Patrons can start booking appointments for use of library computers, faxing, and copying/printing. Curbside service continues.

April 20, 2021: Browsing appointments are added to the schedule. 

June 1, 2021: The NAPL re-opens, no appointment necessary.