About this Site

AFL Trip Talks is a monthly lecture series designed to assist travelers in planning their own adventures.  It is offered by the Ames Free Library of Easton, Massachusetts, an award-winning library and national historic landmark.  Combining the best of history and innovation, it is the place “Where the Community Connects.”

Visit our website www.amesfreelibrary.org to learn more about the library and its programs.

 

Barrel vault portrait

A Brief History

The Ames Free Library opened 130 years ago in a castle-like building designed as the town library by famous 19th century architect Henry Hobson Richardson.  Endowed by Oliver Ames, originator of the shovel industry in Easton, this National Historic Landmark is one of the most photographed libraries in America.  It is nothing less than an historic treasure and was cited as one of the 1,000 Great Places to Visit in Massachusetts.

The unique Queset House adjacent to and owned by the library is used for programs, meetings, and events.  The house was built in 1853 in the English Gothic style. When Winthrop Ames, noted Broadway producer, lived there in the early 1900s, he created Queset Garden and invited stage and screen actors to his home to entertain each other on the garden’s stage.

For almost 75 years the garden was hidden from view and neglected. Thanks to public support, volunteers, and Town of Easton Community Preservation Act funding, the library has undertaken restoration and management of Queset Garden for the public.

The board of directors and staff are proud to be custodians of these beautiful library campus properties and to offer a rich range of cultural and learning opportunities to visitors.

 

Where the Community Connects

After a major renovation in 2008-2009 collections and services expanded in popularity and inventiveness.  So much so, that the library won second place in the national 2011 Best Small Library in America competition sponsored by Library Journal and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This grant, awarded to libraries serving populations under 25,000, honors “innovative libraries which have excelled at understanding and meeting the needs of their communities.” The community of Easton has, in turn, responded enthusiastically to the library’s vibrant programming and welcoming environment:

Animal program in garden

 

 

 

“Our library is like a second home–I can find friends,
community and a source of knowledge all in one place.”

 

 

The Ames Free Library inspires citizens to discover their potential for learning and creativity by using the library’s resources, its community spaces, and staff guidance for their exploration. In addition, the library hosts almost 700 events a year including story times and performances for children and a wide range of adult lectures, monthly groups and special events. Recently, library patrons have enjoyed such diverse activities as watching “Dracula,” making cheese, beading necklaces, listening to Chinese dulcimer, learning about computer security, discussing books (of course!) and even visiting a Civil War encampment.

The library continues to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our patrons. As technology offers new opportunities for communication and creativity, the library is responding by developing a learning commons at Queset House as a community resource. The building’s classic exterior combined with high tech interior renovations offer a savvy environment ideally suited to innovation and collaboration. Rooms will soon be available for meeting, study, audiovisual presentations, and digital media creativity.