Larry Nix, from over at www.libraryhistorybuff.org posted this over at PUBLIB:
The Peterborough Town Library in New Hampshire celebrates its 175th anniversary today. It was established on April 9, 1833. It holds the honor of being the oldest free public library supported by taxation in the world.
It was not until 1852 that the Boston Public Library was established.
By "free", of course, is meant "free to the user". Subscription or membership libraries which charged a fee to the user started with the Library Company of Philadelphia which was established by Ben Franklin and friends in 1733. Membership libraries continued side by side with free public libraries for several decades but were gradually replaced with public libraries, though a few still remain.
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