The library is closed indefinitely per direction of the Town. See the Town of Harwich website for the full closure announcement.


Reference Services | Local History & Genealogy

Reference Services

The Brooks Free Library offers complete reference services. We have a fully staffed reference desk with a professionally trained reference librarian available to help assist in your search process, answer questions, and make recommendations.  Located on the second floor, the Reference desk is staffed during the library’s open hours.  We are here to help you access informational sources as well as library materials and services.  Let us point you in the right direction so that you can successfully make your way through the maze of information resources out there!

Here are some of the things we do at the reference desk:

  • Help you download an eBook to your device
  • Process an Inter-library loan request for an out of state item
  • Show you how to access Consumer Reports online or in print
  • Help you find quality, unbiased medical and/or legal information
  • Help you pull up a tax form on one of our public computers and print it
  • Have a conversation with you to help you decide which computer, tablet, or Chromebook would be a good fit for you
  • Give you a referral to another town department, agency, or organization that can give you the information you need
  • Help you with local research including finding old town reports, newspaper articles, and historical information



Local History & Genealogy 

The Reference desk is a great place to start your research into local history or genealogy., available for use in the library, it is the world’s largest family history resource with 7 billion genealogical records from across the globe and millions of family trees. Heritagequest is another fabulous resource for genealogical research which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home. To log in to Heritagequest, you will need to enter your library card number.

While the reference staff is happy to point researchers in the right direction, intensive individual assistance in researching family history is outside our scope of practice. If you think you will require considerable support in your genealogy search we recommend contacting the Cape Cod Genealogical Society located at the Dennis Public Library or the Eldredge Library Genealogical Department in Chatham.

The digitized Harwich Independent Newspaper 1872- 1949,  Central Cape Press 1949-1958, and the Cape Cod Republican 1862-1864 newspapers are available for use at the Library and Brooks Academy Museum.  We also have print copies of the Harwich Oracle Newspaper 1991-2007.

The Brooks Free Library keeps a copy of the Harwich Historical Commission 1992-1993 Survey and inventory of historic homes (also found on the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System website). Ask at the reference desk for other resources in researching older homes.

Our collection of Town of Harwich annual town reports 1866-2017 has been digitized and can be found online at

We have a special collection of books by Cape Verdean authors and about Cape Verdean experiences and history that is available for check out from our Cape Verdean collection.

Our ‘Cape Cod’ collection includes many Joseph Lincoln books and other older ‘Cape Cod’ related titles.  Non-fiction titles related to Cape Cod can be found in several different locations on the second floor so be sure to ask at the Reference desk if you can’t find what you are looking for.

The Harwich Historical Society is also a wonderful resource for local history.  They have a large collection of historic photographs as well as files on many historic houses and buildings in town.