Branch Libraries

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Salem Public Library operated three branch libraries in the years between 1910 and 1987 when the last branch (East Branch) ceased operations.

South Branch Library In 1910, the Trustees purchased a lot of land on the corner of Lafayette Street and Ocean Ave. and oversaw the design and construction of the branch library building. In the meantime, the East Branch operated inside the Browne School on Ropes Street. The new library was opened to the public on April 11, 1913. All costs and expenses involved were met by the Trustees with Library Trust Funds directly under their control, at no cost to the city. The building occupies the site of Ezekial Hersey Derby's farmhouse and was the first branch of Salem's library system to occupy its own quarters. Boston architect Clarence H. Blackall designed the Neoclassical structure. The South Branch Library was closed in June of 1986, with the proceeds from the sale helping with repair costs at the Main Branch.

East Branch Library In 1910, the branch opened using the "Wardroom" inside the Phillips School. The library was completely renovated when the Phillips School was remodeled in 1925. In 1962, the Bentley School, at 50 1/2 Essex St. was no longer being used by the city for a school, so was converted to the new East Branch Library. The remodeling was made possible, at no cost to the City, by money left to the Trustees from Gardner Maynard Jones, a former librarian of the Salem Public Library. The Gardner Maynard Jones Memorial Library (East Branch) was opened to the public on Aug. 10, 1964. In February of 1987, the trustees of the Public Library decided to close the East Branch due to extensive repair costs. Director Cloherty said duplicate titles needed at the main library will be transferred and the remaining books will be turned over to the School Department.

North Branch Library Located at 176 North St., this branch was erected as a WPA project in the record time of nine weeks (a surprising feat at any time, this structure is made of brick and fine wood.) This branch opened on May 17, 1934. Due to fiscal concerns and after years of low usage during the 1960's and 1970's, the City and Library Trustees made the mutual agreement to close the North Branch Library on Jan. 29, 1977.

See Also

  • Vertical File in Salem Collection - Salem, North Branch Library
  • Architecture in Salem by Bryant F. Tolles, p.41 (East Branch), p. 242 (South Branch)
  • "New branch library in South Salem open today for inspection by public" Salem Evening News, Apr.10, 1913, p.?
  • "We closed a branch library in North Salem" Salem Evening News, Feb. 4, 1977, (letter to the editor)
  • City Documents 1934 ed. p. 22-23. Librarian's Report- completion of North Branch Library.
  • "Good management decision" Salem Evening News, Oct. 11, 1977 (Letter to the editor) Patrick J. Cloherty, Jr., Director of S.P.L.
  • "North Salem Loses Its Library" Salem Evening News, Jan. 29, 1977, p.1
  • "Salem branch library to close(South Branch)" Salem Evening News, Dec. 28, 1984, p.1
  • "Office use for library opposed (South Branch Library reuse)" Salem Evening News, Nov. 20, 1985, p. 13
  • "Branch library shut down" Salem Evening News, Feb. 12, 1987, p.1
  • "Branch library to stay closed(E.Branch)" Salem Evening News, Feb. 21, 1987, p.1
  • "Sale of East Branch Library hinges on price" Salem Evening News, Nov. 30, 1988, p. 13