25. The Dedication Program
As the printed program for the library dedication exercises on October 1, 1873 shows, the celebration opened and closed with music played by the Concord Band. Henry Francis Smith's brief introductory remarks were followed by a prayer by the Reverend Henry M. Grout of Concord's Trinitarian Congregational Church. William Munroe then presented the keys of the new building to Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar, Chairman of the Corporation. Frederic Hudson, Chairman of the Library Committee, read a report detailing the move of the Town Library collection into the new building, the cataloging and physical preparation of books for circulation, the greater than thirty percent increase of the Town Library collection through gift and purchase, the generosity of specific donors of money, books, manuscripts, and artwork, and the hiring of professional librarian Ellen Frances Whitney, "a lady of this town who combines admirable executive ability with untiring energy and industry." Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar spoke next on the history of libraries in Concord, referring in particular to the 1672 instruction to the selectmen regarding the care of books belonging to the town. The exercises culminated with the keynote address by Ralph Waldo Emerson - Concord's resident Transcendental philosopher, lecturer, essayist, and poet.
Near the close of his speech, Emerson emphasized the transformative power of libraries: "But there is no end to the praise of books, to the value of the library. Who shall estimate their influence on our population where all the millions read and write?"