"The boast of the Bristol Library and Reading Room is that is represents the general interest and effort of
the whole community. Long before 1800 there was a library With bookplate reading "the reformed Library of
New Cambridge.’ (That was in the days when there was an uprising against the kind of literature pouring into America
from overseas.) A ‘Philosophical Library’ was in existence in the First Society in 1792 and was revived in 1803.
The third was the ‘Mechanics Library.’ The modern library was inspired by the women of the Congregational Church
who met to sew and for socialization. In 1868, men forming a Young Men’s Christian Association got together books
for a circulating library. Mrs. Augustus Norton, who had removed from Bristol, made a bequest for $5,000 for a
public library in 1891 and gave her own collection of books. By voting a special tax, the town has the high honor
of being the first in the state to take steps for putting good literature freely before the public. In 1893 Mrs.
Julia M. Tompkins of Chicago left $5,000 for the institution and Mary P. Root made a bequest.
"The library was opened in the second story of Ebers Block in January, 1892, T. H. Patterson in charge. He
was succeeded by the present (1928) librarian, Charles L. Wooding. The lot on No. 51 High Street and the dwelling
on it were bought in 1896 and the building served the purpose till replaced by the present handsome structure at
No. 5 High Street, designed by William Potter of Bristol and New York, in 1906. By subscriptions and by bequest
of C. S. Treadway the building fund had accumulated to $45,368. Mr. Treadway and Edward B. Dunbar, who also gave
liberally, had been earnest workers on the committies but did not live to see their hopes realized. To Judge Epaphroditus
Peck fell the honor of making the report that the public subscriptions had completed the fund required. Features
of the institution are a valuable historical collection and one of the finest exhibitions of Indian and prehistoric
relics in the country, given by the collector, Dr. Frederick H. Williams. Accessible here is the town’s history
compiled by S.P. Newell, Judge Peck and Prof. Tracy Peck of Yale, a son of Bristol, on the occasion of the centennial
anniversary in 1885."