Forbes Library, Northampton’s public library, was built in 1893–94 and for the first ten years students were permitted to use the book collection free of charge. By 1905 the College had so grown in size that the demands of its students upon the Forbes Library created a disproportionate financial burden upon services. Rather than meet the request of the Forbes Library for an increased annual contribution for the continued use of its facilities, the College administration decided to develop a College Library. Appropriation was made for the beginning of a planned expansion of book collections which would make the College independent of the Forbes Library.
President Seelye wrote in his January 1900 report: “It is hoped that the Forbes Library, with its more spacious rooms and larger funds will continue to supplement the college deficiency, but a library intended for the general public cannot be depended upon to supply the wants of students engaged in special courses of study, and experience has clearly shown that the College needs an ample library of its own, in addition to the privileges afforded by the libraries of the city.”