The library will be closed Wednesday, June 19th, for Juneteenth

Memorial Hall Library

Chronology of Significant Events and Innovations in the History of Memorial Hall Library

1866, April The town of Andover voted to raise a sum of $4500 for a soldiers' monument for Civil War veterans.
1870, July John Smith, head of Smith and Dove, a linen thread company in Andover, proposed to donate $25,000 providing the town would raise an equal amount to establish a library and reading room. The site suggested by Mr. Smith was the corner lot where Joseph Abbott's furniture shop stood which burned in 1866.
1870 Subscriptions from town fell short and the decision was made to use the $4500 put aside for a Civil War Memorial. An additional $3000 for the purchase of books was given by Mr. John Byers in memory of Peter Smith Byers, first principal of the Punchard Free School.
1871, May It was voted to employ J.F. Eaton as architect and the contract was awarded to Abbott and Jenkins for $27,750. Cornerstone laid Sept. 19, 1871 was a list of all the Andover men enrolled in the Army & Navy during the "War of the Rebellion" and of the 46 who gave their lives.
1872 Town meeting appointed first board of trustees. During the summer, the Trustees purchased 2700 books for the foundation of the library.
1873, May Mr. Ballard Holt, 2nd, was appointed librarian and janitor. He served until Sept. 1, 1906.
1873, May 30 Memorial Hall formally opened with a dinner, parade, and address by the orator Phillips Brooks. (See description in The Founding of the Memorial Hall by Mary Byers Smith. R027.4744 Andover Room)
1906 Edna A. Brown became head librarian and Mr. Holt continued as janitor. Miss Brown was the author of numerous children's books.
1914 A branch library was established in Ballardvale.
1926/27 The building was remodeled. The Victorian roof line was modified to a more Georgian design and a Children's Room was added.
1939 Miss Miriam Putnam was appointed Librarian director in 1939 and served until 1967.
1961 Children's Room was enlarged and the work area increased. Architects: Coolidge and Carlson.
1966 Reading room addition completed.
1967 Miriam Putnam retired. A.J. Anderson became director, 1967-69. Memorial Hall named the Eastern Massachusetts Regional Center, one of seven subregions in the state. (June 11, 1967)
1969 Fines eliminated 3/31/69 under A.J. Anderson. Frances Bold served as director, 1969-70.
1971 Harry Sagris became director, 1971-74.
1974 Nancy Jacobson was appointed director, 1974-1993.
1975 Town purchased the Theater building behind the Library for land & parking.
1978 Library received federal grant to start I&R program called ANSWERS.
1981 Computer system installed/ Libs 100
1982 MHL became the central site for the new Merrimack Valley Library Consortium. (25 members/11 dial-ups)
1984 Old theater building torn down for new addition
1985, May Ground broken for new addition. Architects: Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott. Contractor: Eastern Contractors, Inc.-Newton $5.2 million project
1988, October 30 Rededication of Memorial Hall Library included addition of rear wing and the renovation of the original building. Doubled the size to approx. 55,000 sq. ft.
1989 First "reference" computers added -- Infotrac and WilsonDisc CD-ROM magazine indexes
1991 Ballardvale branch library closed 6/91.
Sunday hours saved, library closes Friday nights at 5:30.
1992 Videocassettes offered for public checkout.
1993 Nancy Jacobson retired, 5/93
CLCAT (menu-based computer upgrade) installed
Historic Footprints project started to landscape front of building to 1910 look. Bricks sold with donors' names.
Jim Sutton appointed Director, 9/93
1994 Front foyer dedicated to Nancy Jacobson. Stenciling artist, Merilyn Markham Estenceler.
EBSCO donated 10 computers with our purchase of subscriptions to their CD-ROM indexes.
1995 Library opens on Saturdays in the summer. Closed on Sunday July thru Labor day. Closed July 4th and Labor Day weekends.
1996 Web based Internet for the public offered. MHL new homepage and web address announced
For the 350th Anniversary of Andover, Maribeth Edmonds produced a library video, The Life of the Library, with Jay Leno narrating. The staff created monthly historical displays and entered a float in the September parade. (Garden of Knowledge)
1997 Massachusetts Regional Library System created to encompass 6 regions. Andover became Reference and Research Center for the Northeast Region (NMRLS) and ILL Center along with NOBLE headquarters.
CD-ROMs available for circulation.
MHL received a federal grant to establish a collection and programs for the Chinese and Russian communities.
Trustees purchase Pat Keck's sculpture Gargoyle.
1998 12 new PCs installed in reference area with a menu front end.
Entire building rewired to support 10/100 Base T networking.
MediaOne internet access available in entire building.
Worked with Senior Center to bring new computers with internet access to the Senior Drop-In Center.
MVLC headquarters moved to a new location, 6/98 (123 Tewksbury St. Andover 01810)
Preliminary planning begins for expansion of Children's Room and YA area.
Trustees purchase David Sullivan's painting After Cezanne.
1999 Library web page has a major revision and expansion.
Books to Go collection established to make extra copies of bestsellers available.
Books on CD collection started to supplement books on tape.
Fees on feature videos discontinued.
Staff recognition awards instituted by the Trustees.
2000 DVD collection started.
NetLibrary collection purchased.
New epixtech library automation system implemented 12/00
2001 Epixtech patron empowerment features implemented -- patron placed reserves, renewals, online patron info, email notification
Trustees purchase two paintings by Sarah Lane (Shane) Crabtree
Library renovated to increase space for Children's and Young Adult activities
Library purchased circulating ebook devices and content
Library becomes first non-California public library to join 24/7 chat reference project
Library Foundation established
2002 Library is first library in MA to circulate MP3 audio devices and content
Library adds database functionality to web page
Library enhances young adult services, checking out laptops and adding staff to serve teen users in the Teen-Z room
2003 iPac2 library catalog with enhanced content implemented.
Library receives two grants from the Andover Home for the Aged to purchase audiobooks and to upgrade computers at the Senior Computer Center.
Library launches the online Andover Forum.
Library offers WiFi internet access.
2004 New standards-based web page introduced
Quick Flicks browsing collections implemented
2005 Reference renamed Information Services; Circulation renamed Customer Services
New Information Services and Customer Services desks installed
New signage installed
Slatwall panels installed on Fiction and Nonfiction shelving units
2006 Overdrive downloadable audiobooks added
Andover Answers wiki started
2007 WiFi extended to the entire building
Andover Room rebuilt with archival shelving and new HVAC system
Self-checkout station added to Children's Room
2008 Polar Bear Sculpture installed in the front of the Library
2009 Energy efficient lighting installed all over library
First "Andover Reads" program - The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
Teen Room "The Jim" dedicated to retiring Library Director, James E. Sutton
Beth Mazin appointed Library Director 7/09
Facebook, Twitter, Text Reference services offered
James Sutton inducted into the Massachusetts Library Association Hall of Fame
2010 Library's original slate roof replaced with a new slate roof in the same pattern as the original.
NMRLS region disbands and MHL transitions to no longer being a regional provider of reference and interlibrary loan services.
Library accelerates acquisition of downloadable e-content.
2011 MVLC migrated to Evergreen library automation system.
Self check-out stations added to the Circulation Room.
Patron self-pickup of holds implemented.
Circulation Room renovated.
Gas fireplace installed.
Main Street entrance plaza area replanted.
DVD rental fees eliminated.
Pearson Street parking lot opened.
Library served as refuge during the Halloween Storm.
2012 Ground Floor renovated.
Patio created at the back entrance.
Electronic bulletin boards installed as part of MA Community Innovation Challenge Grant.
Second Andover Reads galaxy of programs (The Book Thief).
2013 Trustees purchased Paul Endres' painting St. Abigail's Day.
Bee Hive makerspace started.
Materials return moved to the parking lot.
A/V presentation functionality upgraded in Memorial Hall and the Activity Room.
Lower Level corridor and Level 2 patron area painted.
Monumental Elm Tree banner installed on back exterior brick wall.
2014 Level 2 Quiet Study space and TPD staff space renovated
Unique Andover history items digitized and included in the Digital Public Library of America.
Essex Street side of Library landscaped.
Open Summer Sundays for the first time.
Memorial Hall wool carpeting replaced with identical Axminster design.
Lincoln portrait stabilized and digitzed.
2015 Library designated a Personal Care Site in emergencies.
Reference area and Trustees Room renovated.
New Drupal based web page rolled out.
2016 Teen Room renovated
Roof Deck patron area opened
Andover Seed Library started
Local newspapers from 1853-1925 digitized
Children's Room renovated
2017 Memorial Hall windows and other 1926 windows replaced
Lower Level restrooms renovated
Migrated to SirsiDynix intergrated library system
Flores metal sculpture Shawsheen, Shawshin installed on Roof Deck
Bike rack and scooter/skateboard racks installed

Maker Space opened on Ground Level with 3D printer, vinyl cutter, poster maker, sewing machine, and other machines and tools
Memorial Hall renovated - paint, new draperies and AV upgrade
Front stair leading to the hall renovated - paint and new chandeliers
Front entrance updated - outdoor granite steps reset, new railings, new doors, new outdoor light, new chandelier, decorative paint, floor tile
Children's Room bathrooms renovated
Intercom for paging installed
Lyrics from "America" hand scripted on a blank wall in the Hall by decorative painter, Diane Greco. 
newspapers from 1853-1967 digitized 


Beth Mazin retired as Library Director
Barbara McNamara appointed Library Director 4/19
Irrigation system in the front of the library extended and new perennials planted
Lighting throughout the building upgraded to LED
Soft seating in the circulation area and on the ground level replaced
newspapers from 1853-1988 digitized 

2020 Staff help desk and third catalog look-up station installed on the ground level
Lower level entrance renovated - paint, lighting, floor grate and a mobile commissioned by Mark Davis installed
Full building generator installed
newspapers from 1988-1995 digitized
COVID-19 impacted library services:
  • March 14, 2020 the library closed to the public 
  • May 18, 2020 curbside pick-up of library materials began
  • July 29, 2020 the library reopened to the public by appointment only
  • October 4, 2020 library hours expanded and appointments eliminated
  • December 17, 2020 library hours rolled back due to surging COVID-19 cases
2021 Level 1 restrooms renovated
Reference work area renovated
Indoor plants purchased by the Board of Trustees installed on all levels
A diversity audit of print collections to determine gaps in representation in traditionally marginalized groups was conducted
200 white oak seedlings were distributed for Arbor Day 
newspapers from 1996-2006 digitized
COVID-19 impacted library services:
  • March 1, 2021 library hours expanded
  • March 22, 2021 additional library hours were added
  • June 1, 2021 all library hours with the exception of Sunday hours restored and all furniture returned to library floors
  • June 23, 2021 in-person children's programs returned using outdoor space
  • September 12, 2021 Sunday hours restored
  • November 2, 2021 in-person children's programs returned to the Activity Room

The Andover Commission on Disability generously donated $4000 to the library to enhance the services we provide to the disability community.
The Friends of Memorial Hall Library submitted a Participatory Capital Budget Request and were awarded $2000 to assist the library in expanding the Library of Things.
Construction of a new makerspace was completed, new equipment was purchased and installed.
FY24-FY28 Strategic Plan approved by the Board of Library Trustees and accepted by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
In collaboration with the Andover Health Department, the library distributed 6,500 COVID test kits.

2023 The Library celebrated its 150th anniversary.
The Makerspace opened to the public.
The Children's Room refreshed with a new circulation desk and soft seating.
The Cupola fully restored.