Milton Public Library


121 Union Street
Milton, DE 19968

Phone Number: 

(302) 684-8856


(302) 684-8956

Hours of Operation: 

Monday - Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. / Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m / Sunday CLOSED


Mary C. Hopkins

History and Information: 


The Milton Library Association was organized in January 1875, and incorporated in March 1883.  The first library consisted of one bookcase of 200 volumes in Welch’s Store.  In 1913 the library was moved to the J.O.A.M. (Junior Order of American Mechanics) building on Front Street where it operated under the sponsorship of the Milton New Century Club.  For a time it was housed on the second floor of the Palmer Building on Federal Street.  In 1920 the library was moved to the Odd Fellows Building on the corner of Atlantic and Chestnut Streets. During this time, the Milton Lions Club, the town and the state very generously supported the library.  It continued to operate at this location under the leadership of Mr. Joe Jefferson, Head Librarian and followed by Mrs. Polly Stuchlik until moving to the current location on Union Street.

In desperate need of additional space, efforts to obtain a new facility were initiated in the l970s.  With the assistance of Federal funds, the Conwell Building on Union Street was purchased by Sussex County on September 15, 1978.  Built by William W. Conwell, the structure had housed a variety of businesses since its construction in 1912-13.  Following extensive renovation, the library was opened with a dedication on July 22, 1980 under Sussex County management with Mrs. Ruth Marvel as Director.

On October 20, 1987, the Governors Room on the second floor, named in honor of the five governors from Milton (State of Delaware – 4, State of Wyoming – 1), was dedicated and more space, apart from the library proper, was available for meetings, programs, and other activities.  Mrs. Ruth Marvel, after nine years of service, retired on July 31, 1989, and Mary Catherine Hopkins became Director on August 1, 1989.

The dedication of the second upstairs room was held on September 15, 1990 with then Senator Joseph R. Biden as guest speaker.  The Conwell Room, as it was named, occupies the space that at one time was the office area of the late William W. Conwell, who built the imposing structure. 

As 1991 rolled around, the library again underwent renovations and presented to the public its newly-painted and newly-carpeted first floor complete with a Toddler Room addition.

Disaster struck during 1993.  On Monday, May 17, 1993, the library building was closed due to damage from the Union Street bridge replacement.  During the remainder of the bridge replacement, and until the library building was repaired, library services were provided in the Milton Civic Center Building next door.  The Milton Public Library Building was reopened with a Grand Opening on Friday, September 16, 1994.

Responding to a growing demand for services, adjoining property was purchased in 1998, and plans to construct a major addition were begun.  Funding for the project was provided by Sussex County, the State of Delaware, and fundraising through the Friends of the Milton Public Library under the leadership of Mrs. Nancy Rhue, President.  Groundbreaking for this addition was held on Friday, March 21, 2003. The first floor of the expanded facility which included  an elevator to the second floor and a larger library proper was opened to the public with a dedication on Saturday, December 11, 2004.

After this, the original building was extensively renovated to house staff offices, children’s areas, and Friends of the Milton Public Library office and gift shop.

Plans were begun in early 2006 for completion of the second floor of the addition.  A reception and tours were held on Saturday, October 31, 2009 to celebrate the completion.  It was at this time that the public was able to get a glimpse of the two tutor/study/small meeting rooms; the big meeting room which can be divided into two rooms by an expandable lock -in-place room divider; bathrooms, storage, and kitchenette.  Each meeting room is equipped with up to date technology (in ceiling projectors, screens and a microphone system).  The completion of the second floor addition expanded the library’s capacity to have more space available for library programs as well as for non-profit organizations and governmental agencies use for meetings, trainings, and workshops.            

Milton Public Library has come a long way since 1875.  At that time, there were only 200 books available, and its only function was to lend books.  Library materials (books, dvds, music cds, audiobooks, magazines, etc.) are available here and can be accessed through the statewide Delaware Library Catalog via a delivery service.  In addition, ebooks, streaming videos, eaudiobooks, emagazines, databases such as Learning Express, Heritage Quest. and Reference USA are accessible to the public. Newly acquired technology such as a 3-D printer is available. 

Key Individuals

The original officers of the Milton Library Association included:
President John Cord Hazzard; Vice President Noah W. Megee; Secretary John Ponder; Treasurer Dr. James A. Hopkins.  Mary Catherine Hopkins has served as Director since 1989 when Ruth R. Marvel retired.  The Friends of the Milton Public Library was established in 1988 with Charles Fleetwood as the first President.