The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library


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.


The mission of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is to empower and enrich the lives of its users by providing free and equal access to information, promoting lifelong learning, and inspiring people to come together for educational, cultural, and community activities.


Our Operations

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is overseen by a 6-member Board of Library Trustees. The Board has delegated the responsibility of implementing Collection Development policies to the Library Director. The Library Director may delegate to specific staff members the responsibility for selection and removal of materials in certain specific areas. These recommendations are subject to review by the Director.

Our Collection

The Library staff selects a variety of library materials that will meet the needs of the community of West Brookfield. In addition to these materials the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library also regularly hosts programming that is intended to be interesting and helpful to the community.

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library strives to provide a wide variety of materials that are in keeping with its mission and goals, and that meet the diverse needs of the community of West Brookfield. To that end, the Library staff utilizes a number of tools to aid in the selection of these materials. When selecting materials, the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library consults reviews published in sources including but not limited to Booklist, Library Journal, School Library Journal, and popular reading lists such as The New York Times Bestseller List. The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library also takes into consideration suggestions from its patrons.

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is a member of the Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing network (C/W MARS), a network of over one hundred public, academic, and special libraries in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Library Collection Reciprocation

MGL, Ch. 78. Sec. 19B 1 and 6 requires public libraries to meet minimum standards of service in order to obtain annual certification and state aid grants. The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library (MGPL) extends full library privileges to all residents from certified communities.

Conversely, Mass. State Law (605 CMR 4.01) permits public libraries to deny borrowing privileges to residents from decertified communities. Accordingly, residents from decertified communities are not granted borrowing privileges, either directly from the MGPL’s collection or through patron-placed holds.

This policy is based on the understanding that true reciprocity is possible only where each community provides adequate funding needed to maintain minimum service levels at their library. If one community fails to adequately support its library, the reciprocal relationship is invalidated as one community assumes the service burden for another.

However, “in house” utilization of the collection, Internet usage, program attendance, and fax/copy services are permitted at the MGPL. Full library privileges are reestablished immediately following a community’s recertification from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Approved: 04/17/2008
Revised: 01/21/2016
Reviewed: 02/16/2017

 Patron Rights & Responsibilities

The Merriam-Gilbert Public Library is a free institution that is open and available to all. It is the right of every patron to feel safe and comfortable when visiting the Library. With this goal in mind, the following practices must be observed at all times by Library patrons:

  • Children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by a responsible caregiver over the age of 14 at all times. Please see our Unattended Children Policy for more information.
  • Beverages in covered containers may be consumed away from any electronic devices belonging to the Library.
  • Staircases and other indoor passageways will be kept free of obstacles, such as strollers and bookbags.
  • Patrons will observe Library closing times and cooperate with Library Staff as they clear the building at closing time.
  • Patrons listening to music, watching videos, playing video games, or otherwise engaging in noise-producing computer activities will use earbuds or headphones so that other patrons are not disturbed by the noise. Headphones are available at the Service Desk if needed.
  • One person at a time will use the computers. Patrons will refrain from crowding around a single computer.
  • Patrons shall dispose of any garbage in the proper waste receptacles in and around the Library.
  • Patrons shall discuss child-friendly content in and within earshot of the Children’s Room.

To ensure that the Library remains a safe and comfortable place where all patrons can coexist peacefully, the following behaviors are prohibited:

  • Engaging in any behavior that is in violation of local, state, or federal law, or of Library Policies.
  • Raucous or vociferous behavior that disturbs other patrons.
  • Defacing or damaging Library property, materials, or the Library building.
  • Smoking or consuming alcohol in the Library.
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the Library.
  • Fighting, challenging to a fight, pushing, shoving, striking, or throwing objects.
  • Threatening Staff or patrons, either physically or verbally; stalking; harassing; bullying; staring; touching offensively; or exposing oneself.
  • Using profane or obscene language.
  • Sex acts or excessive displays of affection.
  • Bringing weapons into the library. Any object deemed dangerous shall be considered a weapon.
  • Soliciting
  • Political canvassing without prior permission from the Library Director.
  • Lying down on the floor or in passageways.
  • Misusing Library restrooms in such a manner that prevents or prohibits others from accessing them.

Please also be aware that:

  • The Library is not responsible for personal items that are lost or stolen on the Library’s premises.
  • Patrons must cooperate with Library Staff, who are entrusted with interpreting and carrying out Library Policies and Procedures.
  • Patrons whose behavior disturbs or disrupts other patrons’ use of the Library may be asked to leave.
  • The Children’s Room is reserved for use by children, their parents or caregivers, tutors, or others actively browsing the Juvenile collection.

Patrons who do not comply with this and other Library Policies may be asked to leave the Library. Continued disregard for the Library’s Policies may result in suspension of Library privileges. The Library Staff reserve the right to contact the Police Department or other Emergency Response Teams as is deemed necessary.

Approved 3/17/2016
Reviewed: 02/16/2017


The Policies of the Merriam-Gilbert Public Library are developed through a collaboration between the Library Board of Trustees and the Library Staff to serve the public, provide the best possible services, and to protect the well-being of the Library, Staff, and the patrons we serve.