Three libraries preceded the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle’s history. The first was the Carlisle Library Society, a subscription library organized in 1797. It served the needs of the town for forty-six years. Mary Amanda Marsh Reynolds maintained the Carlisle Agricultural Library during the nineteenth century, although its exact dates of operation are unknown.
In 1870, when Reverend Moses Patten became the minister of the Union Calvinistic Society, his wife, Mrs. Lydia S. Patten, began gathering books and soliciting subscriptions for a free library. The town formalized this in 1872 as the Carlisle Free Public Library, appropriating funds and appointing a Library Committee. The Library was housed in Union Hall and later in various private residences in town.
In 1894, Carlisle received the “sum of six thousand dollars with which to erect a brick building for a free public library.” The funds were a gift from Mrs. Joanna Gleason, a resident of Sudbury who had grown up in Carlisle. The land on Bedford Road was purchased for the library from Mr. Nathaniel Hutchinson for five hundred dollars. The library building was designed by George G. Adams of Lawrence and built by D. W. Fitch of Billerica. The Gleason Public Library was dedicated on May 13, 1896.
As the result of a growing population and increasing demand for library services, an addition was built on the west side of the Gleason Library in 1973. By the 1990s the need for more space was clear. An expanded and completely renovated Gleason Public Library was opened to the residents of Carlisle in September of 2000, ready to serve the needs of a growing community entering the twenty-first century.