Enfield's Pearl Street Library celebrates its 100th anniversary this year
By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Enfield - posted Thu., Feb. 13, 2014
Pearl Street Library is celebrating 100 years of serving local residents.
One-hundred years ago, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie was traveling the world donating money to see that local lending libraries were built. His tremendous generosity ended up giving Connecticut 11 Carnegie libraries, one of which is on Pearl Street in Enfield. On opening day - May 5, 1914 - the Pearl Street Public Library opened its doors to offer locals an opportunity to expand their horizons through the borrowing and reading of books.
Carnegie donated the $20,000 used to build the library himself. Adjusting for inflation, built today, the library would have cost over $400,000. Regardless of the initial investment which Carnegie made, Pearl Street stands proudly in the center of a neighborhood which has grown up around it, and in 1914 gave it a social center where people of all backgrounds came together.
“A small town’s public library 100 years ago would be a very integral part of the town,” said Library Director Henry Dutcher. “There were no TVs or video games. Books, newspapers and magazines were the media of the time,” he said. “If you were wealthy enough, you might have an Edison phonograph, or Victoria, but you would likely be reading as you listened.”
Libraries at the turn of the century were not the highly technological, cutting-edge facilities that we know of today in Enfield and beyond. Books were the main commodity, and a pleasant librarian would help you find what you were looking for.
In July of 2013, a committee was approved by the Enfield Town Council to move ahead in planning a year of centennial events to celebrate Pearl Street’s birthday. The Pearl Street Library Centennial Anniversary Committee, which consists of five members, has planned a calendar which can be seen on the Enfield Public Library website, www.enfieldpubliclibrary.org.
Committee Chair Roberta Richmond remembers using the library herself as a youngster growing up in Thompsonville. “The town has seen fit to take care of the library for 100 years,” she said. “It needs to be celebrated!”
Presently, the committee is seeking suggestions and donations for a forthcoming time capsule to be buried on site at the library. It is also hosting a town-wide scavenger hunt/fundraiser on April 19. An anniversary ceremony will be held in May.
“As we develop events to celebrate our ‘Pearl,’ we are seeking donations from the community to ensure that like the services of the library, the celebration of events will be free and open to the entire community,” Richmond said. The committee is also hoping to purchase new tables and chairs for the community room in the library. “The room is used extensively by community groups for meetings and events as well as for library programming,” she said.
Pearl Street is also hosting monthly book discussions. Each month’s book will represent a different decade in which Pearl Street has been open to the public.
If you are interested in joining the committee, it’s not too late. Volunteers are needed. Contact Roberta Richmond at PearlStreetLibrary100@gmail.com.