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The History of the Boyden Library

On January 31, 1871, the Boyden Library welcomed its first patrons. The library was housed in Memorial Hall, a new stone building overlooking the town Common. Memorial Hall was constructed as a Civil War memorial, and members of its building committee felt that a town library would be a fitting use for the new structure. The town agreed, and in 1870 voted to so proceed. Interest from a gift to the town from local merchant Uriah Boyden was used to purchase books, print a catalog, and lay in two loads of coal for the furnace. It was further decided to name the library in honor of Mr. Boyden.

Prior to the establishment of the Boyden Library the Union Straw Works had in the mid-1800's established an on-premises library for use by the young women employed there. A Social Library was later founded in 1860. This private lending library was initiated by community leaders and concerned parents. Foxborough residents continued to seek greater access to books for all the community's residents, and considerable discussion ensued about starting a public library to be provided for by the Town – leading to the establishment of the Boyden Library in 1870. Foxborough then had a population of 3,200. By 1884 the library's collection had increased to 2,560 volumes, by 1890 to more than 3,800 volumes (the planned capacity for Memorial Hall was 4,000). Library services and collections continued to expand over the years – with Memorial Hall serving well beyond any reasonable expectation – and plans were finally developed to construct a new library building on the present site at the corner of Bird and Baker Streets.

Construction of the new library building, designed by Kilham Hopkins Greeley and Brodie, began in 1967, with the library opening to the public on November 2, 1968. Foxborough’s population had grown to more than 10,000, according to the 1960 U.S. Census – a greater than 40% increase from the approximately 7,000 recorded in the 1950 Census. The library collection on opening day in 1968 comprised some 14,000 volumes, with hopes to soon expand the collection to 30,000 volumes.

This thirty-seven year old, 20,833 square-foot building is still home to the Boyden Library – now serving a considerably larger population with an ever-increasing array of collections, programs, and services. In a building designed to serve a population of 10,000 with a collection of 30,000 to 50,000 items the Boyden Library staff now serves a population of nearly 16,500 with a collection of some 95,000 items – and provides 17 public access computers in a space never designed for that purpose.

This 20,833 square-foot building remained home to the Boyden Library until November of 2011 – when the library moved to temporary quarters in anticipation of a large-scale Addition and Renovation project. At that point the Boyden Library building – designed to serve a population of 10,000 with a collection of 30,000 to 50,000 items – was serving a population of nearly 16,500 with a collection of some 95,000 items.

Groundbreaking for the Addition and Renovation project took place in January 2012. The Boyden Library provided a full-range of library services from its temporary location at The Offices at Chestnut Green throughout the course of the 18-month long construction project. Library staff moved back to the Bird Street building in late June of 2013, with the Library opening to the public on July 22, 2013.

Designed by LLB Architects of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the expanded and renovated Boyden Library now occupies approximately 34,000 square feet of space on three levels, highlighted by a top floor Children’s Room featuring a fifty-foot glass curtain wall overlooking Baker Street.

Expanded collection space, new programming areas, improved technology capabilities, and all-new building mechanical systems all contribute to a Boyden Library ready to meet the needs of its community well into the 21st century.