The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library was built in 1880 when Charles Merriam (born in West Brookfield in 1806), famous for publishing the first Webster’s Dictionary, provided the funding for the structure. After seven months of construction the building was dedicated as the Merriam Public Library and Reading Room. The Library was eventually re-dedicated in 1960 as the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library after it received an unexpected and generous bequest from Helen E. Gilbert, a West Brookfield native.
The exterior of the Library remains relatively unchanged with the exception of a cupola, which was destroyed in the Hurricane of ’38. Also, an elevator tower was discreetly added during the 1997 building renovation project that both refurbished and made the building accessible to the handicapped.
In August 2002, the Library became a Mininet member of C/W Mars, thus greatly increasing patrons’ privileges and benefits. Patrons can access their library accounts online and renew items, order materials, and view the online catalogs of all member libraries in central and western Massachusetts. In addition, West Brookfield library cards are accepted at all member libraries.