MacKay Branch Library, North Chelmsford MA

The area of North Chelmsford has had a library since the late 19th century, then run by the North Library Corporation. The original building was on Gay Street and in 1906 hired an 18 year old local woman named Anna Campbell MacKay to be the librarian.

MacKay died tragically of kidney disease at age 35. Her brother Stewart MacKay donated the family home in North Chelmsford to the town in 1947 to be used as a library in honor of his sister.


Many details of the original home have been maintained over the years, including the stained glass window in the entry way and the parlor with its fireplace and beautiful mantle.


What I love about converted buildings is the reminders of their prior use. Imagine the days lived in the rooms where now books reside. There are nooks on the top floor where young Anna might have snuggled up with her own books. There are stairs and doors, locked to library patrons, that suggest secret passage ways to magical realms.



On the top floor is a toddlers room painted with whimsy. What games did Anna and Stewart play up under the eaves in their childhood?


Alas, the Anna C. MacKay Branch Library is under threat of budget cuts. In the minds of local bureaucrats, why not cut funding for branch libraries? There's the shiny main library that everyone can use. Let's save some money.

Never mind the historical relevance of this library. Never mind the convenience to those within walking distance, who can take a stroll with their children to enjoy story time. Never mind that branch libraries often provide different services, often more personable services, than the big main library building. Let's hope the MacKay branch survives.


Many thanks to librarian Bonnie Rankin for her time and the history of the library that she wrote. And many thanks to my colleague at TJ's, Stuart, who has reminded me for the past six months to go visit this library.



That's a pretty building.

That's a pretty building. It's too bad that libraries are often the first on the list for cutting. I think it's because those doing the cutting often don't value real education.

As the Beastie Boys famously

As the Beastie Boys famously sang:
"You gotta fight,
for the right,
to ... Liiiii-braries!"

Um, that is the lyric, right?

Something like that, yeah.

Something like that, yeah.