Our History


The Greenville Public Library celebrates its one hundredth birthday between May and September 1982, the first date being the anniversary of organization and the second the anniversary of the opening of the library.

At the present time people know the library as the Henry F. Jenckes building at the intersection of Putnam Pike and Pleasant View Avenue. Older residents of Greenville and the town of Smithfield realize that this building has been the library's home for less than twenty-six years. It was in November 1956 that the library moved into this building, which in 1966 was expanded by the addition of the young people's wing.

Undoubtedly there are some who may remember the old library building located on what is now the parking area in front of St. Thomas parish house. For its first seventy-four years the library occupied a small store building, with gabled ends and a front porch. The large front room was furnished with shelving, and there was a storage room at the rear as well as considerable attic space under the sloping roof. Lighting originally was provided by kerosene lamps, and heating was supplied by a coal heater in the center of the room, with a long stove pipe leading, to the chimney on the east side of the building. Railings had been installed in the center of the main room, blocking off patrons' direct approach to the shelves.

In 1982 the library's modern collection of books, periodicals, records, cassettes and other audio-visual materials, the availability of interlibrary loan service, its hours of opening five days each week, its story hours for children, its various programs and other activities, all indicate the increased use by residents of Smithfield and the surrounding area and the growing, importance of library service.

However, this growth is the result of devoted service of numerous trustees, friends, and librarians, who have served Greenville for this period of one hundred years.