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Baldwin Public Library


Library history in Birmingham begins with Martha Baldwin.  In 1869 Miss Baldwin and nineteen others formed a literary club, the Library Association, with 48 volumes.  In 1871 the Library Association purchased the First Methodist Church on the northwest corner of Bates and Merrill Streets and by 1879 they had 724 books.  In 1890 the library was run by the newly named Ladies Literary Association and in 1893 the Association began a fund-raising drive for a new building.  On Dec 1, 1895, the new Library Hall on Troy Street (East Maple) was opened.    

By 1905 there were 2,000 books in the library, with a $1 fee for the residents of the Village of Birmingham to read them. During the next decade Martha Baldwin worked tirelessly to create a public Library Board and to fund a new building for the expanding needs of the citizens of Birmingham, efforts that were both realized.  She died on Memorial Day, 1913.  On July 8, 1913, the Village Board unanimously voted the following resolution:  "That the public library of Birmingham be named the "Baldwin Memorial Library" in honor of Miss Martha Baldwin who has always been very active in its interests, and whose liberal gift made it possible to have an institution in our beautiful village."    

The part of the building now known as the Reference Dept. was opened to the public on December 19, 1927.  In October, 1959 the addition of the Youth Dept. was made on the east side of the building.   In 1983 the library in its present form, with a new Adult Reading Dept., and its entrance on Merrill St., was opened.    

In 1869 there were 48 books in a literary group.  There are now over 120,000 books in the library, along with compact discs, audiocassettes, DVDs, videos, magazines, educational toys, newspapers, books on tape, electronic databases and a computerized card catalog.