1790Lancaster Social Library formed. This was the earliest predecessor of Lancaster’s free public library. Proprietors paid $3 to join.
1850Social Library dissolved when Clinton separated from Lancaster. Books auctioned, many purchased by proprietors.
1851Library Club of Lancaster formed. The Library Club filled the place of the Social Library for Lancaster residents.
1862Lancaster Town Library established by vote of the town. The Library Club of Lancaster and the Lancaster Agricultural Library (est. circa 1850) donated their holdings to establish a collection for the new public library. Several Lancaster school district libraries also contributed their books to the new Library. Library opened to the public on October 4, 1862. It was located on the upper floor of the old Town Hall.
1862John L.S. Thompson becomes first Library Director.
1863Library museum established.
1866Nathaniel Thayer established the first Library trust fund with a donation of $5,000. The fund was established on the condition that the town “agree to raise by tax each year for the Library the amount authorized by law of the state.” The Library is still supported by the Town along with private donations.
1867Town votes to build a Library building as a memorial to Lancaster’s Civil War dead. George Bartol, Minister of the Unitarian Church and Library Trustee argued “…no part of our public expenditure does or can, all things considered, bring back a richer return.”
1868Memorial Hall dedicated June 17, 1868. Architects Ryder and Harris of Boston designed the Renaissance-style building with an octagonal Memorial Hall, four alcoves, and a gallery above. A marble tablet listing the names of Lancaster soldiers who died in the conflict was installed opposite the main door. Above Memorial Hall a stained glass “peace window” was installed. A fireproof room in the front was used by the Selectmen and held Town records.
1872William Hector McNeil becomes Library Director. He is later convicted as a bank robber.
1873Alice Greene Chandler becomes Library Director.
1873Card catalog is established by Alice Greene Chandler, an innovation she saw at Harvard University. Miss Chandler was always quick to adopt new developments in Library services and the profession.
1876Alice Greene Chandler elected a charter member of the American Library Association.
1878Fire at Newton Free Library prompts removal of gasoline tank that provided fuel for Library’s gas lights. The tank was buried in a pit outside the building and rediscovered and removed during the Library’s 1998 renovation and expansion.
1879Spiral iron stairway connecting the gallery to Memorial Hall was added. Steam heat replaced earlier furnace.
1880Lancastriana Collection established by Trustee Henry Nourse consisting of pamphlets, addresses, circulars, programs, ect. from 1748- 1880. Collection is designed for additional Lancastriana to be added.
1885-86In 1885-86, when the population of Lancaster was 2,050, the circulation was 12,685.
1888-89Nathaniel Thayer’s four sons, Nathaniel, John, Eliot, and Bayard, provide funds to remodel and enlarge the Library building in honor of their father. A wider brownstone façade and additional rooms were added in the front, the roof was replaced with a copper lantern (cupola) over the old roof’s skylight. At the direction of Miss Chandler, a two-storied brick and iron stack was added modeled after one at Gore Hall, Harvard University, the first one in the U.S.
1889Harriet W. Forbush becomes Library Director.
1890Alice Greene Chandler becomes a founding member of the Massachusetts Library Club, now the Massachusetts Library Association.

Volumes from Lancaster Sabbath School Association library are donated by First Parish Church.
1891Katherin M. Marvin becomes Library Director.
1894Ella Sites Wood becomes Library Director. The Board emphasized training in the profession as a job requirement with ongoing professional development provided during her tenure.
1897Florence S. Rogers becomes interim Library Director. Fanny Rogers of New London, CT stepped in twice (1897, 1898) during Ella Wood’s tenure as Library Director due to Ms. Wood’s chronic health problems.
1898Alice Greene Chandler established the Library Art Club. During its existence she prepared 500 sets of mounted pictures which were circulated among area libraries. Other libraries paid a membership fee to participate.
1899A three year project reclassifying card catalog to Library of Congress cards begins.
1903Virginia Morley Keyes becomes Library Director. She is the first library school graduate to hold the position and to date has had the longest tenure as Director. She established a library apprenticeship program that ran until 1938, training 26 young women in succession. Apprentices worked and studied for two years under Miss Keyes without pay to receive training. Upon completion, they received a recommendation necessary for obtaining a library position elsewhere or for acceptance into library school.
1903Two lamps outside main doorway are donated by Nathaniel Thayer.
1904Glass front cases provided to enclose Lancastriana and Washburn collection.
1905Electric lighting was installed replacing the old gasoline lights. A great advantage noted was the ability to turn off any light not in use.
1907All children’s books gathered together in a separate collection for the first time. Open shelf system put into practice in the entire Library.
191250th Anniversary! Cupola removed and replaced with a skylight.
1913First story hour offered.
1916Sheet iron panels with rosettes added to fill the open spaces in the balusters of the spiral staircase.
1917The Library was a center for community wartime activities, including promoting War Gardens. Miss Keyes assisted with the War Camp Library Fund of the ALA, contributing materials for the new library at Fort Devens, and books for the prison camp near the junction of 110 and 117.
1925First juvenile borrower’s card issued.
1927n Nathaniel Thayer ll, a Library Trustee. It would contain a dedicated Children’s Room, a new development in library architecture.
1929Children’s Room dedicated July 20, 1929. This was one of the earliest rooms especially set apart for children in the history of public libraries. 140 juvenile cards were issued that year.
1936Museum voted to be only historical rather than including natural history specimens.
1938Mrs. Bayard Thayer gives two blue Chinese vases and a white marble clock to the children’s room.
1940Museum opens to the public. Gate added in doorway to gallery.
1943Mrs. William Dexter gave four marble figures from her home, Hawthorne Hill. They represent the four seasons and were placed in the Children’s Room. The statues are now located in the first floor lobby.
1943From Trustee minutes: “After some discussion it was voted that the present restriction that adults not be allowed in the Children’s Room be removed. This is not to be broadcast, however, as we do not wish the Children’s Room to become a place for adults to sit and chat.”
1948Elizabeth Avery Hosmer becomes Director (director of South Branch 1925-1939). She codirected with Miss Keyes mid-40’s to 1947.
1951Dorothy Adams Fifield becomes Director. She adopted national and state library standards. She requested review by Massachusetts Division of Library Extension (now MBLC), implementing their recommendations (increasing acquisition, rejuvenating children’s literature, and weeding out-of-date material). During her tenure circulation increased 346%. She received formal certification from the state (now required) in 1955.
1952Increased interaction with public schools leads to classroom space at library, high school study hall in the Children’s Room.
1954Lancaster Town Library began participating in the Regional Reciprocal Loan Plan.
1956Library begins participation in interlibrary loan with Wachusett Group.
1958Hubert Rowell and A&P in Clinton donate two metal grocery carts for patrons with bundles or small children.
1960Virginia MacMackin Osborn becomes Library Director. She was Miss Keyes last library apprentice in 1938.
1961Library joins Central Massachusetts Regional Library System.
1963Virginia E. Bacon Dunning becomes Library Director.
1964Space in the main room provided for art exhibits by area artists.
1965Board of Trustees is convinced by Mrs. Dunning to meet requirements to apply for and receive State Aid.
1967First Children’s Librarian hired (Beverly Camp)
1968First Reference Librarian hired (Alice Meriam). Rare Book Collection is established by Mrs. Dunning. Many of the antiquarian books were still in the circulating collection.
1968Town funds voted to adapt quiet reading room into Special Collection and Rare Book Room for books requiring climate control.
1971Special Collections Room opened with reception for townspeople on Nov.14, 1971.
1972Grace F. Hoffman Comes becomes Library Director. Library hours extended to mornings, programming added. Especially popular is Person-to-Person program in which local residents share information. Literacy volunteers program for ESL added in 1975, workshops on drama, photography, and pre-school story hours promoted.
1981Margaret E. Dingbaum Fischer becomes Library Director (formerly Children’s Librarian from 1974).
1981Major repairs for the preservation of the Library as a historical building is funded by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Town, and Friends of the Library.
1982With funds approved at the May Town Meeting, the Town Library officially became a charter member of the Central/Western Automated Resource Sharing (C/W MARS) project. This network of 28 public, academic, and special libraries will provide Lancaster residents with access to over 4,000,000 books for interlibrary loan, plus the inventory control necessary to eliminate loss of books and the collection of overdue fines.
1982Libraries participating in the CW/MARS system will use Zentac terminals with light wands to read machine readable labels attached to both books and the borrower’s card.
1984On-line circulation introduced
1985Rare Books and Special Collections inventoried and policies for use established. Collections room re-dedicated to Constance V.R. Dexter.
1986Purchase of microfilm/reader along with completed Clinton Daily Item on microfilm.
1989Design study for expansion of Library building.
1990On-line catalog replaces card catalog for public use.
1990Hours reduced due to cuts on funding from recession.
1991Linda M. Vitone becomes Library Director.
1992Library fails to meet state certification requirements due to budget cuts for the first time since they were established. Waiver granted.
1995Library meets requirements for certification after 3 years with waivers.
1995CD/ROM public access computer added.
1996Sue A. Hoadley becomes Library Director
1996Library grant for expansion and renovation awarded by MBLC (rated #1 on construction list).
1997Debt exclusion approved for Town portion of funding, design development and drawings.
1998Library operations moved to former college bindery building as construction proceeds.
1999Board of Trustees votes to rename the Lancaster Town Library to honor the Thayer family. Rededication and opening of newly renovated Thayer Memorial Library is Nov. 28, 1999.
2000Sue Hoadley resigns. Linda Vitone serves as interim Director providing assistance during search and transition period for a new Director.
2001Joseph J.Mule becomes Library Director.
2001Internet becomes available for patron use.
2007New sign (copy of old) replaces old sign, security cameras installed throughout building, and E. Howard clock reinstalled.
2008Library hours increase to 49 hours per week, finally back to 1989 levels. Wireless Internet access initiated.