New ‘Library Trail’ Starts in Franklin, Touches Much of State


When Benjamin Franklin donated more than 100 books to the tiny Massachusetts town, newly named in his honor, he probably didn’t realize the impact he would have. And now, in recognition of his founding gift and its transformative impact, the state has its own Ben Franklin `Library Trail’ – an invitation to explore and appreciate the state’s wealth of libraries.

In 1790, the citizens of Franklin voted to make Ben’s books freely available to any resident – a library policy that is all but universal in today’s libraries but was a novelty at the time. The Ben Franklin Library Trail invites book lovers, art and architecture buffs, travelers, and the historically minded to come see the 200-year-old books on display at the Franklin Public Library, as well as the historic murals and Greek-inspired architecture. Then, they can visit all of the many other libraries across the Commonwealth with treasures of their own, including:

* The oldest library building in the United States, now part of the Sturgis Library in Barnstable, MA

* The location of the first dedicated children’s library in the world, at Arlington, MA

* The first taxpayer-supported library, at Wayland, MA –a town named for its library benefactor.

* The W.E.B. Dubois Library at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, the tallest in the western hemisphere.

* The first large city library to be funded by the public-— the Boston Public Library – with its millions of books and priceless art treasures.

But the trail is only a start. The Bay State is home to some of the largest and most beautiful municipal and academic libraries anywhere, as well as plenty of the famous “Carnegie Libraries” funded by the turn-of-the-twentieth-century philanthropist. In fact, nearly every community in the state has a library worth exploring!

The Ben Franklin Library Trail was created with grant support from the Metrowest Visitors Bureau.

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