DIXFIELD — A lot has changed in the 100 years since this town’s first public library opened its doors in the front parlor of Ada Hammonds’ home on Main Street.

Now computers and a myriad of technology, along with thousands of books and services, are available from the Ludden Memorial Library which was built in 1939 at 42 Main St., just a short distance from the original parlor library.

On Thursday from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. an open house at the library, complete with birthday cake, will celebrate 100 years of having a public library.

It all began in 1910 when an article was placed in the Dixfield town meeting warrant to raise $200 for a free public library, according to a compilation of library history by local resident Patty Jones.

That was 107 years after a Dr. Elijah Dix promised to provide the town with a library if residents would name the newly incorporated town after him. They did, but Dix never came through with a library.

From the time Hammonds opened her parlor to readers, until the present library was built, library books were housed in a variety of places, oftentimes in an upstairs space.

That inconvenience was something Verdurina Ludden, a longtime schoolteacher, believed should be solved. In her will, she left $10,000 for land and construction of a library. The colonial-style, brick library is located on a portion of the lot of what was once Ludden’s home. She also left money for maintenance.

The library is built in memory of her parents, Luther H. and Arvilla H. Ludden, according to Jones’ history.

On Thursday, visitors will not only get to see the bright, airy original library, but also a major expansion that was completed in 2000. This new light-filled section houses the children’s room and more space for books.

Librarian Peggy Malley said visitors won’t see any card catalogs.

“They are long gone. Everything is on computer,” Malley said. She has worked at the library since 1999.

The library also serves as a community meeting space and offers several story time sessions and after-school programs.

Computers make up a large section of the library and are used by many. Students and others also use the Wi-Fi connection with their laptops, and more than a 1,000 DVDs are popular with many patrons.

Malley sees even more change for libraries in the future. Although most people still read “real” books, she can see a time when many more will want to read e-books on such devices as kindles. The library will have to invest in them to add to the collection for circulating.

Visitors are invited Thursday to tour the library and to see what it has to offer.

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