Dear Westborough, Massachusetts,
I know that times are tough. I know it’s hard to find full-time work and that retirement is almost impossible these days. As these things become more of a myth everyday, let’s, as a town, cherish those that are free. Those things that are already ours.
The Westborough Public Library is one of the oldest, most historic parts of our town that we can still look at, touch, and use. Built in 1857, the library has serviced thousands of Westborough residents through the years and has recently given us a new addition, called the Westborough Room.
Without a local records center or archives, the Westborough Room provides residents with the history of the town. The new room provides obituaries, family records, photos, memorial scrapbooks, maps and subscriptions to genealogical websites and databases.
As residents of the hundredth town in Massachusetts, we now have local access to the resources of our history right on the ground floor of the library.
However, like any resource, if it is not used, it could be lost. We must show the Trustees that this asset is truly loved.
I encourage those of you who have always wanted to dabble in genealogy to jump right in. The Westborough Room offers subscriptions (on-site, and some off-site with a library card) to online genealogy databases like Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest and American Ancestors: New England Historic Genealogical Society. These subscriptions certainly aren’t cheap, yet are available to you free of charge. Use these resources to trace your ancestry even beyond Westborough and finally make that family tree you’ve always wanted to.
I urge teachers to use the Westborough Room to their advantage. Introduce students to the gift of primary sources and teach them how lucky we are to have these documents to study. I fondly remember studying Westborough history in fourth grade but had the Westborough Room been available, my history projects would have truly come alive. Students can access historic photos, such as the workshop interior of the National Straw Works, the grounds of the Lyman School, or the shop workers outside the Humber Cycle Company. Maps of the migration of the Nipmuc Indians and the early English settlers can show students the way Westborough has evolved over time, and give context for our settlement. It’s important for students to understand the past, and know that we were not the first. Those who came before us left an incredible history, and the Westborough Room gives us a fantastic way to explore that history.
Teachers should also use this new resource to introduce students to National History Day. Having only discovered National History Day recently, as a judge, I felt an extreme sense of loss for the research I would have embarked on as a middle or high school student. Take advantage of this local source of archival materials! Let students get their hands on photos, records, maps and whatever else inspires them to begin research. Also use the online resources as a gateway introduction to digital libraries! From the Westborough Room and links through the website, patrons and students have access to the Digital Commonwealth, and other digital libraries local to Massachusetts.
As a former Westborough resident, born and raised on the fables of Lake Hoccomocco and Mill Pond, I am so pleased to hear of this new venture of the Westborough Public Library. Take advantage of their work, use their resources, and make sure the Westborough Room stays a part of Westborough history for years to come.
Mary Kate Kwasnik