Art and History In The Malden Public Library

The Malden Public Library has been a notable institution since the 19th century, providing valuable services to the community for over 150 years. The library is currently comprised of two main sections, with one section being considerably newer.  The original part of the library was opened in 1885, while the newer section, the one that is considered by most to be “the library”, opened in 1996. The older section is usually not accessible to the public, except on certain days or by prior appointment. 

However, the wealth of treasures within the older sections of the library are nothing to be trifled with. They are a veritable gold mine for anyone seeking to learn about the history of the city, their families, or just to view unique architecture, art, and enjoy themselves for a short period of time. The quality of the building is admirable, and the contents within demand exploration.

Upon entering the main part of the old building, you enter the first library. When the library was originally opened, the old building was all that existed of the library. The old entrance is walled up now, and a librarian stands where people once entered. The entire hall is covered in polished wood, and the environment is warm and inviting. There are seldom other members of the public in these sections.

The primary reason that people enter this part of the library is to look through records concerning their families and themselves, according to Ryan Reed, a librarian: “[patrons] come in, and we'll look through the newspaper archives in the city directories…that's mostly the bulk of what people come in here for…” The library contains tens of thousands of documents concerning city matters that stretch as far back as the library existed, sometimes even before: every newspaper published in malden since the year 1900 has been placed on microfilm and stored at the library, and can be viewed by the public.

Attached to the old room are the several rooms that comprise the MPL art gallery. The gallery has on display many works of art from many creators, both local and outside Malden. Dora St. Martin, Director of the Malden Public Library, stated that the library’s art pieces are permanently kept by the library if bought, and that the collection of art for the gallery started in 1904. As a result, the amount of art the library has collected is so large that they can only display 1/3rd of their entire collection. From modernist art to classical pieces, mid-century paintings, and portraits of the library’s original patrons, the art collection of the library is wide and varied. The library tries to promote the art gallery as often as possible, and tries to hold many exhibitions and events within its confines.

The Malden Public Library has always been a valuable asset to the City. Its rows upon rows of books have been lent out, read, returned, and lent out again to what probably amounts to over a hundred thousand people, if not a million, over 150 years of service. The older parts of the library, despite being lesser known, are still just as valuable and interesting to the library today as any other part that may be more traveled.

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