The History of the Rockville Public Library
The history of
the Rockville Public Library began in 1893 with the bequest of $10,000 from
George Maxwell to the town for a free public library. Previously, private
subscription library services, which charged a fee, existed in the area.
The bequest was given with the provision that the town raise an equal amount in
In 1893 the Rockville Public Library was incorporated and the
Rockville Public Library Association was organized. The town appropriated
the matching $10,000 in 1895, and the following year the library opened in the
Hartford Connecticut Trust Company building on Elm Street.
The present building, constructed in 1904, was designed by
Charles A. Platt of New York. It was a gift from Mr. Maxwell's wife and
children after his death. In addition to the building, the gift included
funding to maintain and operate the facility. The majority of the
library's current operating budget continues to come from this source. The
total cost for the lot, building, and furnishings was approximately
$150,000. The library was dedicated and opened on June 29, 1904.
Three kinds of marble were used in the construction.
The exterior of the building is white Vermont marble, featuring eight Ionic
columns. The interior is Sienna marble and stained oak. The
vestibule is lined with Formosa marble.
The frieze, or ornamental band, encircling the reading room
contains the names of 26 great authors: Addison, Aeschylus, Browning,
Bunyan, Burns, Byron, Chaucer, Dante, Dickens, Eliot, Emerson, Goethe,
Hawthorne, Homer, Hugo, Jonson, Longfellow, Milton, Poe, Scott, Shakespeare,
Sophocles, Stevenson, Tennyson, Thackeray, and Virgil.
The Latin inscription over the circulation desk, Ex hoc
fonte illa quae summa haurimus, translates, "We draw the greatest
things from this source.."
In 1967 the building was renovated and the children's wing
The adult department was renovated in 2002 to maximize available space and to
allow for greater use of technological resources. Renovations
included the relocation of the circulation desk
to the other side of the marble archway to highlight the original desk. The Reading Room now features a browsing area for
magazines, CDs and videos as well as new books and other materials.
New carpeting has been installed, comfortable chairs have been added,
and an upgraded security system has been activated. Computers have been
centralized in the Reference Room so that all resources used for research are in
These renovations enable the library to
provide 21st-century service in its magnificent historic building. In 2004
Rockville Public Library was honored with an award for general excellence in
public library service, presented at the annual Connecticut Library Association
conference. In selecting RPL for the award, the judges noted that the
library "was able to honor the historic aspects of the building and the
community while incorporating technological advances."