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The Pittsfield Public Library was started in 1855 with forty members and 400 volumes. In 1874 the library was organized under the name of the “Pittsfield Ladies Free Reading Room and Public Library.” It was financially supported through subscriptions, but by 1879, the citizens voted to levy a small tax to support the library. The library is now the property of the City of Pittsfield and is administered by a nine member board of directors.
The library had several locations around the downtown Pittsfield square until 1907 when it moved to its present location. The preceding year, Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist known for giving millions to create libraries all over the country through the Carnegie Foundation, donated $7,500 for the construction of a library. Mrs. Chauncy Higbee, wife of a local judge, donated the lot for the new building as well as pictures and cork carpeting for the Children’s Room. The building was open to the public on May 9, 1907. In 1937, Fred Jones, formerly of Pike County, bequeathed 5,000 volumes from his personal library as well as $25,000 for an annex to the library, which was added onto the west side of the original building.
In recent years, the library has completed several interior and exterior updates, including the addition of a mechanical lift which provides handicapped accessibility. The library contains nearly 35,000 volumes as well as offering audio, video, children/teen/adult books, magazines and a selection of large print books. Inter-library loans are often made. The main library is an important source of genealogy information. It has several computers with web/internet connections available for use. Fax and copy machines may be used for a fee. The Children’s Library has expanded its physical space to offer books and other resources to middle and junior high age children. There are activities for children provided in the summer and winter.
Pittsfield Public Library cards are provided free to all city residents. A current ID is required for application and a parent or guardian’s signature is required for patrons under the age of 14. The Adult Library phone number is 217-285-2200 and Youth Library number is 217-285-5232. The library’s email address is email@example.com. The hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m..
■ Source: Pittsfield Public Library pamphlet. Submitted by Kay Sealock, Pike County 200th Anniversary Committee.