Gleason Public Library’s Special Collections seeks to collect, preserve, and make available for research primary and secondary archival materials that relate to the town of Carlisle. Special Collections pursues accessions and offers exhibits and educational programs that interpret Carlisle’s place in the American historical landscape.


Special Collections gathers manuscripts, photographs and other non-written records, family and personal papers, maps and atlases, printed and published materials that pertain to the town of Carlisle. Acquisitions should conform to the mission of the organization and serve to illustrate and deepen our understanding of, or give a new perspective to, Carlisle’s past.

The collection seeks to encompass as many aspects of Carlisle’s history and culture as space and interest allow. The library welcomes gifts fitting within this collection development policy and plan. Final acceptance or rejection is subject to review by the Board of Trustees of the Gleason Public Library.

When acquiring new resources, the Library requires donors to complete a deed of gift, which includes the name and address of the donor, a description of the acquisition, and the provenance of the donation. The donor may add restrictions to the gift. Donors’ names will not be given to researchers unless the donor agrees to be identified.


Gleason Public Library Special Collections includes the following materials. The Library will accept donations in the following areas that are relevant to the Town of Carlisle:

  • Manuscripts and personal papers
  • Non-written records (including photographs)
  • Publications
  • Genealogy materials
  • Maps & atlases
  • Newspapers
  • Directories, annual listings, yearbooks
  • Town reports and related town government information


No accessioned material shall be removed from the collection except by strict conformity guidelines. Deaccessioning shall be based on any of the following criteria:

  • The material is free of any restrictions that prohibit its removal from the collection
  • The material is outside the scope of the Mission Statement and the collections objectives, or it is no longer relevant to the purposes and activities of the institution by the direction of the Board of Trustees
  • The provenance or authenticity of the material has been disproved
  • The material is redundant, or the Library acquires a better or more complete example of the material
  • The material has deteriorated to a degree that renders it no longer useful

The Library will dispose of any deaccessioned materials in a thoughtful manner.


Loans may be made to museums, historical societies, and educational institutions.

A written request for the loan of materials is required. Materials will only be loaned if they are in such condition that they can withstand the rigors of travel, extra handling, and climate changes.

All parties must complete and sign a loan form.

The borrowing institution will be responsible for the materials while in their possession.


ACCESS: In theory, the Library subscribes to the standards for access to original research materials adopted by the Society of American Archivists and the Association of College and Research Libraries. In practice, the Library must consider the limited staff available to satisfy users’ demands. To serve our patrons to the best of our abilities, users are asked to comply with the following rules:

RESEARCH HOURS: Research materials are available during regular library hours. Researchers desiring to perform extensive research with materials locked in Special Collections are asked to make an appointment with the archivist or one of the reference staff.

SECURITY: No more than three books from the Archives may be used at one time. Only one archival box may be used at one time. Materials must be used in the Hollis Room or at the reference tables. Materials must be returned to Reference staff. Access to unprocessed collections may be provided at Reference staff discretion.

PRESERVATION: Some fragile materials are housed in Special Collections. Users are expected to handle these materials with great care. Only pencils are allowed when using the materials. No marks of any sort may be made on the materials. Materials should be kept flat on the reading table and nothing should be placed on original documents. The user is expected to maintain the materials as they were originally provided. Any problems (i.e. loose pages, etc.) should be brought to the attention of the Archivist immediately. Smoking and eating are not permitted in the Library. Drinks are not permitted while using special collections materials.

REFERENCE AND RESEARCH REQUESTS: The Library will spend no longer than one half hour on any single mail, electronic, or telephone request. These requests should generally be restricted to straightforward reference inquiries such as obituaries. The charge for paper copies is fifteen cents per sheet (cost may be subject to change). Requests will be handled as soon as possible in the order in which they were received. More in-depth research requests may be accommodated if staff availability permits.

COPYRIGHT AND OTHER LAWS:The revised copyright law, which took effect in 1978, provides protection for all unpublished material for the life of the author plus seventy years. For works first published before 1978, the copyright rules vary according to the particulars of the work. Users of materials at the Gleason Public Library accept full legal responsibility for observing the copyright law, as well as the laws of libel and invasion or privacy and property rights. The Library may refuse the right to photocopy when the condition of the original will not permit it or when materials were accessioned with restrictions.

REPRODUCTION PERMISSIONS: The Gleason Public Library will provide prints of items within the collection holdings. Please be aware that the 1976 Copyright Act provides protection for documents from the date of creation whether or not they are formally copyrighted. It is very important that researchers obtain permission for the publication of material. More information about the copyright law can be found at http://www.copyright.gov/

Obtaining permission to reproduce images in the Gleason Public Library Collections requires a written request. The request should include details of the intended use of the image(s). Written requests are required for all uses including exhibits, educational projects, and papers.

Credit must be clearly visible and adjacent to the image. Credit should include any specific information about the artist, collection, and date. For any use, the credit line should also include: “Courtesy Gleason Public Library, Carlisle, Massachusetts.”

A fair market reproduction fee will be applied to any photographic reproduction. The images are available in print form.

The Director may apply an appropriate fee when special accommodations are requested in writing for image reproduction use. Fees are subject to change based on costs for staff travel expense and fair market pricing. Payment should be made to the Reference Desk. Checks made payable to Gleason Public Library Endowment.

Library Assistance

  • General queries should be directed to the reference librarian
  • For assistance in identifying images, or if the query is of an in-depth historical nature, contact the Reference staff at the Library address/phone or by email to info@gleasonlibrary.org.
  • For permission requests, contact Library Director at the Library address/phone or by email to director@gleasonlibrary.org

All contacts can be made at:

Gleason Public Library, 22 Bedford Rd., Carlisle, MA, 01741
Write to info@gleasonlibrary.org
Stop by in person
or call 978-369-4898


The Gleason Public Library holds and provides access to materials of visual interest, documenting nineteenth- and twentieth-century Carlisle. The photographs date from the 1880s through the 1990s, with the bulk of the collection dating from 1900 to 1940. Images include, but are not limited to, houses, farms, businesses, people, school buildings and students, landscapes, and landmarks. Documented celebrations include Old Home Day and Memorial Day. The Wilkins’ Notebooks and related photographs contain many images of Carlisle houses and other properties.

Scanned versions of the Wilkins Notebooks may be accessed online through the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org). High-resolution scans of most of the images from the Wilkins Notebooks may be downloaded from the Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth (http://www.digitalcommonwealth.org). The above policies for reproduction permissions and credits apply to use of these digital images.

On-site access to the photograph collection is staff-assisted. An appointment is appreciated, but not necessary. Patrons are not permitted to browse holdings, but locating images is facilitated through the use of finding aids. Visitors may take digital photographs of Special Collections photographs as long as flash is not used. Visitors may not bring their own scanners or lighting equipment into Special Collections to make copies of images held by the Gleason Public Library and may not use flash photography.

Those unable to visit the library may contact Reference staff at info@gleasonlibrary.org for assistance in identifying potentially useful images.


The Board of Trustees of the Gleason Public Library has granted temporary custody of the artifacts in the Library’s historical collection to the Carlisle Historical Society. (This collection, along with the Society’s collection, was formerly housed in the third floor room of the Library and then was in commercial storage until moved to the Heald Homestead on Concord Road, Carlisle.)

It is understood that the Society will take every reasonable precaution to secure and protect the collection. It is also understood that the librarians of the Carlisle Historical Society will work towards determining the best storage and/or display location for items in both of the collections, with the goal of providing the best possible access and care.

A Note on Temporary Collection Status, 1999-2001

Since 1933 the historical and archival collections of the Gleason Public Library (Town Collection) and the Carlisle Historical Society have been housed together at the Gleason Public Library. The collections are discrete, having been catalogued with separate accession numbers. When the library began a building project in 1999, the collections were moved to off-site storage. In 2001 the Carlisle Historical Society purchased the Heald Homestead on Concord Road for use as a headquarters and moved its collection there. Following completion of the building project, part of the Gleason Public Library (Town) Collection was returned to the Hollis Room on the third floor of the Library.

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