Town's had a long library history

The new Hudson library is expected to be finished in spring 2009, thanks to a $4 million donation from brothers and longtime local businessmen G. Philip and Alvin H. Rodgers. The new library, at 194 Derry Road, will be named the George H. and Ella M. Rodgers Memorial Library in honor of the men’s parents.But Hudson’s library history goes back much further. According to a history compiled by the late former librarian Hazel Buxton and presented at a 1948 meeting of the Hudson Fortnightly Club, the first town library was incorporated back in 1797 and called the Nottingham West Social Library.

Citing author Kimball Webster’s “History of Hudson, N.H.,” Buxton reported that although she found “no record of where books were housed” in Webster’s history, “it is thought that they were exchanged among people in (several) widely-scattered homes” around Hudson.

That system, which charged each member a small fee to “replenish the supply of books and defray operating costs,” Buxton wrote, stayed around for about 50 years before “it dissolved and the books distributed among the members.”

Based on Buxton’s compilation and a summary of the last 30 years provided by Hills Memorial Library director Mary “Toni” Weller, here’s a timeline of some milestones in Hudson library history since the demise of the Nottingham West Social Library.

1856: “Hudson Center Library” is formed. Books kept at home of its secretary/treasurer, Eli Hamblet.

1891: State of New Hampshire forms first board of library commissioners.

1893: Selectmen appoint Kimball Webster, Henry O. Smith and Oswald Baker Hudson’s first library trustees.

1894: Hudson’s first free public library, named the “Greeley Public Library” in honor of the family that donated hundreds of books, opens June 20 at the home of George Merrill on Maple Avenue. Emma Merrill is appointed librarian.

1895: Library is moved into a hall upstairs in the Baker Block, over Baker Brothers store, near the bridge. Mary Webster appointed librarian.

1897: Maude Andrews named librarian.

1903: Ina Martin named librarian.

1906: Eliza Leslie named librarian.

1907: Kimball Webster purchases land at the corner of Ferry and Sanders streets (Sanders is now Library Street) and gives it to Hudson for a new library.

1908: Dr. Alfred K. Hills proposes building, a new town library, at the site in memory of his wife, Ida Virginia Creutzborg Hills, who died that year.

1909: Hills Memorial Library is opened and dedicated June 11.

1920: Annabel Morgan succeeds Leslie as librarian.

1921: Alfred Hills dies.

1922: Mary (Webster) Abbott named interim librarian.

1923: New cataloguing system, the card catalog, is introduced; library closes for six weeks while Mary Abbott and Hazel Buxton type up cards for all 6,500 books then in circulation at the library.

1926: Hazel Buxton named librarian.

1928: Helga Durivage named librarian.

1947: Hills Library interior undergoes renovation.

1959: More than 200 people attend an open house in celebration of the library’s 50th anniversary.

1963: Jessie Norwell Hills, second wife of Alfred Hills, dies.

1963: The Hudson Fortnightly Club leads several town community service organizations in a beautification project on the grounds of the library.

1964: Former librarian Leslie dies at 102.

1972: Renowned children’s author Elizabeth Yates visits Hills Library.

1977: Residents approve $3,500 for feasibility study for a new library.

1978: Residents approve $43,300 for architecture fees.

1980: A $790,000 proposal for an addition to Hills Library is defeated.

1981: A $719,880 addition proposal is defeated.

1983: A $200,000 addition proposal is defeated.

1984: A $400,000 addition proposal is defeated.

1985: A $980,000 addition proposal is defeated.

1990: Bond for land purchase and renovation of land and building is defeated.

1995: A $200,000 proposal for land is defeated.

1998: A $480,000 proposal for land is defeated.

2000: A $125,000 proposal for land is approved.

2001: A $15,000 proposal for architectural design is approved.

2005: A $220,000 proposal for architect fees is defeated.

2007: At Town Meeting in March, a $4 million proposal for a new library falls short of the 60 percent favorable vote needed to pass.

2007: In October, Hudson residents Philip and Alvin Rodgers donate the $4 million needed to build the new library.

2008: Construction starts on George H. and Ella M. Rodgers Memorial Library at 194 Derry Road.

2009: Library trustees scheduled to assume ownership of new library in late February and start furnishing it.

2009: Grand opening celebration planned in June for Rodgers Memorial Library and to observe the 100th anniversary of its historic predecessor, the Hills Memorial Library.