1905 -1948

A new era began in May, 1905, when the Board of Directors appointed May B. Lamb as librarian, with Cora L. Burlingame as assistant librarian. Since many of the records of the collection were in a confused state, the Book Committee called upon Orra A. Angell to inventory the collection and to bring the accession and catalog records up-to-date. In May 1906 Miss Angell reported that there were 3,753 volumes in the lbrary, and that they were arranged on shelves in the front mom (or "neatly stacked" in the back room), that all the titles in the front room were recently recorded in an alphabetical catalog, and that the fiction titles were not only recorded in an alphabetical book catalog, but that she had started an alphabetical card catalog. She also reported that during the year 737 volumes had been donated to the newly established North Scituate Public Library.

May Lamb continued in her position as librarian until her resignation November 19, 1917. Cora Burlingame, who had been assistant librarian from 1905-1917, was promoted to librarian on that same date, and continued in this position for almost thirty-four years, until her own resignation on November 17, 1951. As librarian Miss Burlingame was paid one dollar for each day of service. In 1918/19 she received an annual salary of $60. She received raises in 1922/23 and again in 1928/29, by which time she had a maximum annual salary of $125. When she retired in 1951 this was still her salary from the library's funds, though after 1921 she received additional money from the state-aid grant authorized for librarians whose salary was less than $400 annually.

Both Miss Lamb and Miss Burlingame spent eight to ten hours per week at the library, as the library hours for most of this time were on Wednesdays 4:00-9:00 and Saturdays 4:00-9:00. They maintained the

circulation records, accessioned and cataloged the new books and also covered janitorial duties, which included tending the fire in the stove, removing ashes, and general cleaning. In the early part of the century numerous janitors had provided this service at 50 cents per week. After 1918 these duties were assumed by the librarian at $20 per year. It was not until 1950 that a regular janitor was appointed by the Board.

During these years book selection was handled entirely by the Book Committee. This committee was composed of three to seven members of the association, usually from the Board of Directors, These people took their responsibilities very seriously, and although restricted by the limited funds available for books, they endeavored to obtain the best in literature. Mention should be made of the chairmen of this committee, many of whom continued in office for many years:

1906-1908 Miss Orra A. Angell

1908-1911 Rev. Orin D. Patch

1911-1915 Miss Orra A. Angell

1915-1926 Mr. Marshall W. Mowry

1926-1947 Mrs. Mattie A. Walcott

1947-1948 Mrs. Nellie G. Vaughn

Financial support of the library was obtained in part by membership dues of $1 annually. In 1906 there were 31 members listed as eligible voters at the annual and quarterly meetings, and by 1945 there were 69 members. Fines of 2 cents per library day for overdue books provided additional money. Annual appropriations by the Town of Smithfield varied from $150 to $200 in this period, except for two occasions during the depression years when the amount was reduced to $100. Annual state-aid grants from 1908/09 through 1927/28 were $150; in 1928/29 the annual grant was raised to $200, based on the number of volumes in the library.

A sampling Of some of the treasurers annual reports (not including the state-aid grants) provides some interesting comparisons with present day library expenditures:

Receipts Expenditures













From time to time there were special financial drives to meet costs of repairs to the building, such as exterior painting, re shingling the roof, repairing the chimney, the purchase of a new stove, and for additional shelving. Although in 1914 the President was authorized to obtain estimates for electric wiring and fixtures for the building, it was not until three years later, in 1917, that electricity was installed. In 1943 gravel was needed to alleviate the ruts and muddy condition of the street in front of the building. In 1947 the interior of the building was improved by painting the ceiling (two coats of paint at a cost of $64.80). In 1949 a porch light was installed at a cost of $15.14. So through these years there was continuing maintenance of the property.

In February 1924 the Board authorized the use of the library building, as temporary quarters for the Greenville Post office until other facilities could be obtained. Interestingly enough May Lamb, the former librarian, was postmistress at that time. The expense for fuel and lights was shared equally by the library and the post office. The secretary's minutes do not reveal how long this arrangement remained in effect.

Statistics maintained by the librarian show some interesting comparisons with more recent figures, which will be tabulated later:

Volumes in library


Number of patrons





















Some of the dedicated trustees were keenly interested in the library and thoughtfully made bequests in amounts ranging from $50 to $1,000. Among such testators through 1937 were Josephine F. Steere, Orra A. Angell, Marshall W. Mowry, Sarah S. Windsor and Nicholas S. Winsor.

It was in July 1938 however, that the library's finances were substantially augmented and a building fund was inaugurated. During this year with the death of Irene B. Jenckes, a long-time trustee and officer, and by the will of her husband, Henry F. Jenckes, who died in 1917, all real estate and money from their personal estates were bequeathed to the library. From this legacy the library received $9,162.75 in cash and title to a substantial piece of property at the corner of Putnam Pike and Pleasant View Avenue, including a house, a barn and several small outbuildings.

The money received was deposited in a savings account, and there were many discussions held on the disposal of the property. A number of offers were received for the property as a whole, but it was decided for the time being to rent the house. By May 15, 1948, the decision was made to save the Putnam Pike frontage for a new library building, the area behind the house to be subdivided into five lots. Three of these faced on Pleasant View Avenue and the other two would be approached by a 10-foot rigth-of-way from Putnam Pike along the Jenckes line adjoining the property of Thomas Hall. The area was surveyed and platted by Nahum F. Leach in October 1948, and the plat was recorded in the Smithfield Town Hall.

Nicholas S. Winsor continued as President of the Board until his death, September 13, 1928, He was succeeded by Rev. Gideon A. Burgess, who served until his death in 1945. Charles A. Steere was elected President in 1945 and continued in this office until his term expired in 1950.