The first Madison Public Library, the James Library building, opened on Memorial Day 1900 and still stands on the corner of Main Street and Green Village Road. Built of granite and limestone, this beautiful structure was the gift of D. Willis James. He also stocked the Library with 5,000 books and built the commercial James Building across the street to provide income for the Library’s maintenance and operation. The Library became a municipal institution of the Borough of Madison in 1958. The James Library building, still owned by the Borough of Madison, currently houses the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts.
The new Library, designed by the architectural firm McDowell-Goldstein, was opened to the public in February 1969. The Adult Services Department is housed in the James Wing, the children’s Services Department in the Barton Wing. The Barton Wing commemorates another trustee and benefactor, Warren H. Barton, whose foresight and generosity made the Library the beneficiary of a trust fund. Across the fountain courtyard stands the multi-purpose Chase Auditorium given by former Councilman Burr L. Chase. The library building has been cited for architectural excellence, and in terms of materials, facilities and services, the Library is considered one of the finest in the State, a source of pride and pleasure for the staff as well as patrons.
In 1993, two additions to the James Wing were dedicated to provide a Madison Public Library Local History Center and increase stack and storage capacity. These additions were funded by a major fund-raising campaign supported by local residents, businesses and foundations. A State Library Construction Grant was also received. The Local History Center houses the collection of the Library; space is also provided by the Library to the Madison Historical Society.
During these first years of the 21st century we have experienced a celebration of the Library’s Centennial, re-landscaped the property and completed ADA upgrades. In 2005, the Chase auditorium was upgraded with ADA bathrooms and entrance, a new
sound system, ceiling, lighting, etc. ADA improvements were also completed on the lobby drinking fountain, Children’s Services Department bathroom and front entrance.
Other recent improvements include parking lot lighting and swale stabilization work.