About the Portsmouth Athenaeum

Membership libraries were first created in the 18th century for the mutual edification of their members and to elevate the educational resources available in the community. The name “Athenæum” was used by a number of societies established during the nineteenth century to describe institutions with broader aims than just a library. The term is derived from Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, and the classical temple of the arts and sciences named to honor her.

While there were once hundreds of membership libraries across America, there are now fewer than twenty left. The Athenæum today continues this long tradition of mutual improvement by maintaining a library of over 40,000 volumes and an archive of manuscripts, photographs, objects, and ephemera relating to local history. It also sponsors exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and other educational and cultural programs.


Joseph P. Copley Research Library & Randall Gallery hours:


  • Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Also by special arrangement


Both the research library and the exhibition gallery are free and open to the public. Public entrance is shared with Ireland on the Square (6 Market Square). The research library and gallery are on the third floor. For elevator assistance, please call (603) 431-2538.


The Joseph Sawtelle Reading Room is open to the public on Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. when staffed by volunteer guide.


The Athenaeum is closed for certain holidays and events, including the following:


  • New Year’s Day
  • Market Square Day (the second Saturday in June)
  • July 4th
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas



The Portsmouth Athenaeum is located at 9 Market Square in Portsmouth, NH.

The Research Library and Randall Gallery are at 6-8 Market Square on the third floor.

GPS Coordinates:  Latitude – N 43° 4’ 37.5”  Longitude – W 70° 45’ 27”  MAP

The Reading Room is on the first floor of the Athenaeum at 9 Market Square.

The Portsmouth Athenaeum is handicap-accessible. For elevator access, please call (603) 431-2538.

Parking – Street parking is limited to two hours. We recommend using the High-Hanover parking garage, which is a block from the Athenaeum and Market Square.


Contact Information

For information call (603) 431-2538 | Email: info@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Extension 1 is for general information about the library.

Extension 2 is to reserve seats for lectures or programs.

Extension 3 is to leave a message for the library staff.

Officers and Directors

President:             Stephen H. Roberts
Vice-President:   John Rice
Treasurer:            Jeffrey Keefe
Secretary:             Douglas Aykroyd
Past President:   Karen Bouffard

Ronda Baker Hill
David Borden
Edward Caylor
Janet Dinan
Ellen Fineberg
Sally Gayer
Peter Rice
Sandra Rux
Peter Tarlton


Keeper: Tom Hardiman | thardiman@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Librarian: Robin Silva | rsilva@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Research Librarian: Carolyn Marvin | cmarvin@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Archivist: Susan Kindstedt | skindstedt@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Photographic Collections Manager: James Smith | jsmith@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Office Manager: Patty Kosowicz | pkosowicz@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Current Organizational Documents

Portsmouth Athenaeum

Mission Statement

We, the Proprietors of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, associate to promote learning and advance useful knowledge among our constituents and the wider community by facilitating convivial interchange and intellectual discourse; maintaining our historic buildings and library; and collecting and preserving materials relevant to the history and culture of Portsmouth and the Piscataqua region.

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