Welcome to the New Bedford
FREE Public Library
Established in 1852 by a city ordinance, the New Bedford Free Public Library is among the earliest free municipal libraries in the United States. Beginning in 1857 and housed in the building now used as City Hall until 1910, the core of the library’s original holdings contained books, periodicals and other materials purchased from the New Bedford Social Library (founded in 1807), which had assimilated the collections of the Encyclopedia Society, New Bedford Library Society, New Bedford Athenaeum and Lyceum.
The New Bedford Free Public Library, through free and equal access to materials, information, knowledge and technology, enriches the lives of the community by cultivating lifelong learners and readers.
To be New Bedford’s primary place to go for materials, information and educational support for all ages, learn about each other in a safe and welcoming environment, preserve local history, art and special collections for increased access, and build an engaged and connected community.