Natick, Massachusetts has two public libraries:
- The Morse Institute Library, located at 14 E. Central St.
- The Bacon Free Library, located at 58 Eliot St.
The Morse Institute Library—14 E. Central St.
The Morse Institute Library opened in 1874 thanks to the largesse of Mary Ann Morse (1825-1862), who willed her estate to the town “for the purpose of creating a public library” to serve Natick’s population of about 10,000. The library’s collection started out with 7,300 books. Today the Morse Institute’s holdings include 200,000 books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks. The library also circulates games and puzzles, museum passes, a “Library of Things” that includes a selection of household tools, outdoor supplies, music, and tech items.
Natick’s population has increased to over 37,000 since The Morse Institute opened, as counted during the 2020 US Census. To accommodate the increased number of patrons, the library underwent a renovation that began in 1995 and was completed in 1997. The renovations preserved the 1873 building, while bringing a fresh, modern feel to the historic structure.
Public spaces of the library are on the first and second floors, as well as the basement, which holds the Children’s Room, a public multi-purpose space, and storage space.
The library is part of the Minuteman Library Network, a consortium of 43 libraries that provide services to members in the MetroWest region of Massachusetts.
The Bacon Free Library—58 Eliot St.
The Bacon Free Library’s began in the parlor of Mrs. Sarah Griffin Bacon’s home in the 1800s as the Ladies Social Circle Library. After she passed away, her husband, Oliver Bacon, obtained the land where the library is sited and first built a small library. Upon his death in 1878, and his will established a trust to build and operate a more substantial structure, which is the current library building.
Siting the Bacon Free Library building on its Eliot St. plot proved to be a controversial matter, which rankles local Native Americans to this day. The land is part of an Algonquian Indian burial ground. Some of their graves were destroyed during construction of the building, and again when the intersection of Eliot and Pleasant Streets was enlarged. The Natick Historical Society held some of the contents of these graves until the 1990s, when they were repatriated according to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.