HISTORY OF THE LIBRARY
In her 1976 History of the Eastham Public Library, Helen B. Schwind wrote that the library was "Created by townspeople out of a desire to enrich their lives, and to aid in educating their children." The "creation" took place at a town meeting on February 11, 1878, when $175 was appropriated for a library.
Initially, the library was a room over the general store owned by George H. Clark that also housed the Post Office. The building was on Samoset Road west of the railroad tracks. In 1887, William H. Nickerson gave land at the present site to the Village Improvement Society (V.I.S.) whose members had raised funds to build a separate library.
By November 1897, the library had been built and leased to the town by the V.I.S. (Their initials are still found over the entrance to the present building.) On January 8, 1898, the trustees opened the building to the public.
The year 1903 was an important year for the library. The V.I.S. sold the library to the town for one dollar; the town received $1000 from the will of Robert C. Billings "for the purposes of the Public Library...”, and $14,000 from the same will to establish a permanent fund for the library.
Between 1890 and 1960 the population of Eastham only doubled (from 602 to 1200), but its annual library circulation increased nearly twenty-fold (from 715 to 12,648),while its collection grew from 864 to 6,200 volumes.
By 1970, the circulation of its 11,400 volumes had risen to nearly 20,000. This growth prompted two major additions to the library--the first in 1961 and the second in 1988.
The library's collection now contains more than 45,000 items that includes books, magazines, videos, music, and spoken word recordings, puzzles, and computer software. It continues to serve the citizens of Eastham well, while attracting people from other Massachusetts towns as well as many out-of-state residents during the summer. Annual circulation has soared over 100,000 since 2000, and there is not enough space for the collection, nor seating for the public. As a result, the Trustees and townspeople decided to build a new Library.
In 2011, the Library received a construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners that is matched by Town Meeting appropriation. Construction of the new library on the original site began in the fall of 2014. The new Library opened on November 15, 2016.