Our Building

How the State Library building has changed over time.

The present state library building, built in 1895 of native granite, is one of the complex of buildings comprising the center of state government in Concord. Flanked by lilac shrubs, the building bears the name of the state in Latin on its facade. Aptly titled, it serves all branches of state government as well as all citizens of the state.

When the present capitol was completed at Concord, in 1819, the books owned by the State were allotted to a room. To the laws and journals of the Province and State, the public documents of the United States, then small in number, had been added; and volume one of the New Hampshire court reports was just appearing from the press. Four years later, the Legislature of 1823 authorized and appropriated $100 annually, requesting the Governor "to purchase such books for the enlargement of the state library as he may think proper." An act of 1826 provided for the purchase of "one copy of the Journal of the Senate and House of Representatives for each session since the adoption of the present constitution."

By 1828 the modest accommodations had been outgrown and the north side of the state house was made into a library. In 1833 the first regular librarian was appointed, but to serve only during sessions of the Legislature. In 1846 the Secretary of State was made librarian ex officio and the first catalog was printed.

1866 marked the establishment by Legislative Act of the State Library as a separate department with a librarian, a Board of Trustees, and rooms on the west side of the capitol. In 1889 the first Library Association in the country was incorporated, its purpose to be the promotion of the efficiency and usefulness of libraries to cultivate fellowship among its members. Two years later a Library Commission was formed, by act of the General Court. With its four members, and the State Librarian an ex officio member, the Commission served to advise libraries and give assistance. They were also permitted to aid in the establishment of free public libraries with state aid, by giving books to the value of $100.

Between 1935-1938, remodeling of the building occurred, including : enclosing the open balcony above the front entrance to become an office, installation of a freight elevator for book trucks, as well as installation of a new floor in the stacks to create two floors for more shelf space and patron seating. There have been various smaller projects and repairs to the building over the course of the 21st century, including restoration of the map gallery and repair to aging windows.