In her 1976 History of the Eastham Public Library, Helen B. Schwind wrote that the library was "Created by townspeople out of a desire to enrich their lives, and to aid in educating their children." The "creation" took place at a town meeting on February 11, 1878, when $175 was appropriated for a library.
Initially, the library was a room over the general store owned by George H. Clark that also housed the Post Office. The building was on Samoset Road west of the railroad tracks. In 1887, William H. Nickerson gave land at the present site to the Village Improvement Society (V.I.S.) whose members had raised funds to build a separate library.
By November 1897, the library had been built and leased to the town by the V.I.S. (Their initials are still found over the entrance to the present building.) On January 8, 1898, the trustees opened the building to the public.