During Town Meeting of 1893, the citizens voted to start a library, and $25 was appropriated. Another $100 was provided by the state of New Hampshire. The first library trustees were Daniel S. Woodman, Frank Faye, and Frank E. Scruton. Books were kept in private homes. Hiram S. Hill became the 1st librarian, followed by his wife, Hattie Daniels Hill. In 1910, when Mae Foss became librarian, there were 1500 books in the library. They were kept in a room in the Austin-Cate Academy building, before being moved to the Town Hall. Later, the books were transferred to the home of Ms. Foss, who served as librarian for approximately 30 years. The library was moved to the home of Guy Huckins in 1940, when Mrs. Ruth Huckins became librarian. In the early 1940s, the bookmobile from the State Library in Concord began visiting Strafford.
In 1965, a room was remodeled in Austin Hall and furnished for the library. It opened in May, and Mrs. Eleanor Smith became librarian. The Strafford Women’s Club gave $196 and the Ladies Circle of Center Strafford gave $10 for new books, and more books are borrowed from the Chesley Memorial Library in Northwood.
The Strafford Library Study Committee was appointed by the moderator after town meeting in 1970, to investigate the feasibility of constructing and maintaining a library in the town of Strafford and accepting a donation of $10,000 from Miss Bernice Hill and her brother, Kenneth, for that purpose. Their cousin, Gordon Hill, in memory of his parents, offered a plot of land, on which his mother had envisioned just such a building.
The Committee became the Strafford Library Association (SLA) and undertook fundraising and oversight of a new library building. The building was completed in 1971 and on July 15, 1973, a dedication ceremony was held, at which time the new building became the Hill Library in memory of the Hill families.
In 1988, a new wing was added to the existing building. Bernice Hill again offered a substantial financial contribution, and other funds were raised by the SLA. This room was dedicated as the Bernice Hill Room and houses and ever-growing nonfiction section as well as shelving for several personal collections of historic relevance to Strafford.
In 1999, the library doubled in size with a generous donation from Herb Cilley. Mr. Cilley was a self-taught ornithologist who became known as the “Loon Ranger” for his dedicated and pioneering work in the protection and rehabilitation of loons on Strafford’s Bow Lake and elsewhere in New England. Herb’s outstanding ornithology collection and scientific materials are available for public reference at the Hill Library to this day and the room named in his honor is our busy children’s room.
The Library has grown from 180 volumes kept in people’s homes in 1893 to more than 12,000 books in the Hill Library. The library’s computerized catalog data bank enables the staff to interact with the libraries throughout New Hampshire and elsewhere. We offer our patrons, young and old, a wide selection of books, periodicals, multimedia, a rich collection of local history and even a telescope for circulation. We have five high end public access computers, in a networked environment offering high speed Internet connectivity and access to scanners, faxes and printers. The Cilley Meeting Room is a busy meeting place where the entire community comes together for diverse programming and presentations. Strafford and statewide history can be found in the Hill Library today, including the Cilley nature collection, which concentrates on birds. The Strafford Historical Society has placed a variety of documents, memorabilia and photographs. The town reports date back to 1882.
Our Library is led by dedicated staff of six and a Board of three elected trustees. And all Library services are free to Strafford tax payers.