Since 1842 Brattleboro readers have been privileged to borrow books: first, from its early Brattleboro Library Association and 40 years later, when the shareholders offered the books to the town, from the Brattleboro Free Library, which moved in 1887 from its quarters in the lower Town Hall to the George J. Brooks Library.
George Brooks spent his boyhood in Chesterfield, N.H., and made his fortune in a wholesale paper business on the West Coast.
Upon his return to Brattleboro he planned and constructed the library building which was presented to the town and at the time was described as "beautiful and commodious".
At its opening in 1887, the collection numbered 5,000 volumes. Early in the 1960's the federal government, needing more space for postal operations on Main Street, negotiated with the library for the purchase of the property at the very time the library's building had become overcrowded and relocation was necessary. The George J. Brooks Library building was torn down, and a new, larger building constructed farther north on Main Street.
In a special meeting in 1965, Brattleboro town meeting members voted bond issues of $243,000 as the town's share of the building project. Other funds were raised from the sale of the property, interested community members, and organizations. The George J. Brooks Memorial Library--completed in 1967--has continued the plans of its founder by providing the town with cultural and educational advantages. Gifts of all sizes have enriched the collection and memorial contributions have continued to make possible the purchase of materials on a wider subject range, and in different formats, than the annual town budget could assure.