Abington Social Library, Pomfret
This is a US Oldest as well as a US First.
Next time you’re tooling around Abington (Pomfret) looking for We-Lik-It Ice Cream – why else would you be here? – and pass the “oldest now standing meeting house in Connecticut”, look two buildings north for the Abington Social Library.
Because while the church doesn’t really deserve CTMQ recognition as merely a “Connecticut oldest still standing,” the library certainly does, for its a US Oldest. In fact, it’s a US First and a US Oldest! Quiet Corner Jackpot!
In 1793, the Congregational parish of Abington in Pomfret formed a social library for their community. I don’t know what a social library is despite my deep Googling. It’s really bothering me… after all, do we care if something is the oldest in the US if we don’t know what it is?
Reverand Walter Lyon, minister of the Abington Congregational Church, was the first librarian. The books were mainly theological and philosophical volumes and many subscribers lamented the lack of more popular works of literature. In response, a young men’s organization, the Junior Library of Abington, was founded in 1804. It merged with the social library in 1815 to form the United Library of Abington.
I hope you’re sitting down, because here’s the good stuff…
Women of the community founded their own organization, the Ladies Library of Abington, in 1813. It was the first women’s library in the United States! Out here! In Pomfret! Many decades later, the United and Ladies libraries merged in 1879 to form the present Abington Social Library, which is the oldest continuously operating social library in the country. The present day library is located in a building erected in 1886. Which means it fits in well in its setting on Route 97 – just north of We-Lik-It.
I joke about being “way out here” or whatever, but check this out:
There are 10 places on that map with CTMQ pages. No matter where you are in Connecticut, there’s always something to see and do. You can find them on the Guide to Pomfret if you’re so inclined.
The library boasts several historic items, including their original charter which was shown off at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. There’s also a beautifully carved wooden wolf in honor of Israel Putnam’s exploits at Wolf Den in nearby Mashamoquet Brook State Park. More? Oh, just an old timey card catalog the library refuses to part with – and I love them for that.
Today, this joint houses more than 30,000 books. It boasts wireless Internet access, software programs for students, ICONN access, Connecticut’s research engine, interlibrary loans, books on tape, videos and DVDs, large print books, and museum passes.
And now it can boast a place on the vaunted CTMQ dot org.