Hudson Public Library began to serve the public late in 1867 with 720 volumes. The very same citizen, for whom the town was named, the Honorable Charles Hudson, inaugurated free library services in Hudson. When he was notified on July 4, 1866, that the town had been named for him, he wrote in part as follows:
“After our churches and free schools, I know no institution more productive of the welfare of a town that a well-selected library to which the whole population, under suitable regulations, may have access Free of Charge. I will submit…to the Town…the following propositions: if within two years from the date of your incorporation, the Town of Hudson shall at a legal meeting, called for the purpose, vote to establish a free town library for the use of all inhabitants of the town, and appropriate, or otherwise secure, the sum of $500 to be devoted to that object, they may call upon me, my executors, or administrators for the like sum of five hundred ($500) to be expended in the furtherance of that object.”
This communication was put before the Town at its annual meeting in April 1867. The proposition was unanimously accepted, and it was voted that $500 be raised and appropriated in aid of the library.
The Library was located in several different sites throughout the town until 1873 when it was moved into the new Town Hall building. By 1903, the space in the Town Hall was becoming cramped and it was obvious that a larger space or separate building was necessary. In response to this growing need, Grace Wittemore, the librarian, corresponded with Andrew Carnegie and requested funds for a new building. A letter dated January 6, 1903, was received from Mr. Carnegie’s private secretary.
“Madam, Responding to your letters in behalf of Hudson. If the city agrees by resolution of councils to maintain a Free Public Library at cost of not less than $1,250.00 a year and provide a suitable site for the building, Mr. Carnegie will be glad to furnish $12,500.00 to erect a Free Public Library for Hudson.”
On May 6, 1903, the town voted to accept Mr. Carnegie’s offer, to provide a site and $1,500.00 for underpinning and to raise at least $1,250.00 annually for support. Construction took little more than one year and the library opened to the public informally on Thursday, November 16, 1905, and the following Saturday, November 18th the usual circulation of books was resumed.
In 1929, the Town voted to enlarge the building by adding a second floor and a new roof. The new second story contained a large magazine room, an art room and the space at the rear of the building was turned over to the Historical Society. With the second floor addition, the library was similar in design to the original plans from 1904.
A two-story addition was added to the rear of the building in 1966-67, which coincided with the Town’s Centennial. This addition allowed for expansion of public services in all areas: adult on the main level, and children’s and meeting space on the ground level.
While the original footprint of the building has remained the same since 1967, we have made significant changes and improvements to the floor plan, collections, furnishings, staffing, building and grounds. We have replaced the roof, the carpeting, painted and wallpapered the entire building, and refurbished the public bathrooms. The grounds have been landscaped and an irrigation system has been installed. All the sidewalks have been replaced and a ramp and handrail has been installed for handicapped access. The parking lot has been reconfigured to add additional patron spaces. In 1997, we completed the changeover from a paper card catalog to an automated circulating system with a full membership in C/WMARS. Our most significant improvement has been the $500,000 renovation and expansion of the Children’s Room completed in 2002. This allowed us enough space to create a warm and welcoming environment with age appropriate areas for collections, study and play. A much needed craft area, playhouse, storyhour room and storage space were added as well as a large circulation desk that serves as a focal point for the level. Our new Children’s Room has become a destination point for Hudson families.
Thus from one simple room the Hudson Public Library has evolved into an imposing structure facing Wood Square. Sixty five thousand volumes are now available, together with widely diversified modern services. In our historic Carnegie building, we strive to provide the customer-friendly service that is a hallmark of an earlier time as well as the professional guidance needed for today’s technology and information needs.