Library History - Chronology

A Library Chronology:   In Three Parts


 Patchogue Library (Association), 1883-1900

  • May 19, 1883  -- Rev. S. Fielder Palmer, of the Congregational Church of Patchogue (then located on the northeast side of Lake St.), proposes a public library for Patchogue, in an article, "Mental and Social Culture," in the Patchogue Advance, to which he is a contributing editor. 
     
  • June 12, 1883 -- Patchogue Library Association is organized at the home of John Joseph Craven (221 E. Main St., near Medford Ave.). 4 officers are elected. 3 trustees and managing committee (of 3) are appointed; a constitution and bylaws are approved, membership and subscription fees, loan periods, and fines are set.   Shortly afterward collection and soliciting of funds for books begins, door to door, by women of the village; and the Board looks for a room for rent, in which to create a library.  J.J. Craven remained PLA President, until his death in 1893, after which the Association was adrift without funding or much of a rudder.
     
  • August 18, 1883 -- Patchogue Library opens in a room sublet within Floyd A. Overton's shoe store, located in the John Roe Smith Block (32-38 W. Main St., where today's Indigo and Flo's restaurants are located today).   The First Catalogue is published, and distributed, listing 475 books (at the time, larger, and more wide-ranging than most private collections in the village).
     
  • 1884 -- Patchogue & Suffolk County Bank (then village's only bank, conveniently, until then, immediately adjacent, just west of the John Roe Smith Blockfails.  It's CEO, Edward S. Peck, also the Library Association's treasurer, is nearly lynched,  later attempts suicide, and is rescued, then interrogated largely by Library Board members, who also are among principal officers in the successor Patchogue Bank (on the same spot).  Peck is replaced on the Library Board. by local druggist, Nelson McBride. 
     
  • 1884 -- Floyd Overton's wife, Lida, suddenly dies, and he orders the Library to vacate his store.  
     
  • 1884-1885 -- The Library is relocated to a sublet room in George M. Ackerly's stationery store (13 E. Main St., north side, where the Caribbean-style restaurant, Rhum, is located today) 
     
  • 1885-1891 -- The Library returns to its original location, this time in 2 sublet rooms in James L. Overton's  haberdashery (menswear) and shoe store, somewhere in the John Roe Smith Block (32-38 E. Main St., south side).
     
  • 1891-1896 -- Patchogue Library moves to a sublet room in George M. Ackery's music & piano store in the George Gelston Roe Block (west side of S. Ocean Ave.), which was then a 2 story building with the office of Walter Jaycox, Library Board member and lawyer, conveniently upstairs.  The Library was probably on the ground floor.  It was also diagonally across the street from the [Old] Lyceum, where a number of benefits were held to try to raise funds for the perpetually financially failing Library.
     
  • 1896-1899 -- As the Old Lyceum was gradually put to other purposes, and when the Congregational Church moved to its present location (92 E. Main St.), a corporation (headed by Jesse C. Mills, owner of the Mills building, and a library board member), was formed to create a [New] Lyceum, on Lake Street, incorporating some of the old Congregational Church building, as the village's new showplace:  featuring a 500 seat auditorium, gymnasium, 2 law offices, a fire house, and 2 judges' chambers, including that of Wilmot M. Smith (last president of the Library Association, 1899), and Patchogue Library, at a reduced rent. 
     
  • Late November 1897 -- The Patchogue Chapter of Sorosis (a multi-purpose women's progressive organization, bent on suffrage), led by the forceful and energetic Elizabeth Mott Smith, wife of  Judge Wilmot Smith.
     
  • December 19, 1898 -- An astoundingly quick victory in the Spanish-American War had created new faith in public institutions, and during this year it was only Sorosis' fundraising efforts for the Library that met with any success.  Then, on this date Mary E. Craigie, Managing Director, Brooklyn Public Library, delivered a speech to the Patchogue Sorosis, saying that if 6 women could create a well-functioning public library, Patchogue could do the same.  Influential men (husbands, significant others) were immediately put on the spot to agree, and dutifully complied.    Sorosis quickly formed a Library Committee.   Though the local Women's Christian Temperance Union was asked to do the same, they abstained from being good.

 

Patchogue Library (Public), 1900-73 

  • October 9, 1899 -- The Library Board met for the first time in years, and elected officers
     
  • October 28, 1899 --  Last meeting of Patchogue Library Association  -- Jesse C. Mills introduced a resolution that the Library Board turn over the Library and all things related to it to Sorosis for one year, to be returned to the Board the same at the end of a year, unless by the a public vote established and funded a public library.   The resolution passed unanimously.
     
  • By December 15, 1899 -- The Library was in Sorosis' hands.   Marion Brundage, appointed Librarian, was the first to have any training in librarianship, and introduced the Dewey Decimal System, to organize the collection.   
     
  • January-early August 1900 -- Sorosis established an inviting Library, raised funds, bought new books, replaced badly worn books, enlarged the range and scope of the collection, promoted the public library to the public in the press, and made it popular.  Circulation grew among people from all walks of life. 
     
  • August 1900-1902 -- The public library is located in easternmost room of the John Roe Smith Block (32 West Main St.; in what is today's Indigo restaurant, left side, as you face it from the street). 
     
  • August 7, 1900 -- At a school board meeting, the public voted to create and fund a public library, and 5 trustees were elected:  Elizabeth Mott Smith (Sorosis President), Dr. Wellington Gordon (Patchogue High School Principal), Dr. Frank Overton, Walter H. Jaycox, Esq., and D. Gertrude Brundage.
     
  • August 8, 1900 -- First meeting of the public library Board of Trustees.  Trustees' lengths of office were settled, officers were elected, Elizabeth Mott Smith, was elected President, a committee was appointed to select a librarian, and the Secretary Frank Overton was ordered to apply for a state charter.
     
  • August 23, 1900 -- Application for a State Charter was formally signed and unanimously adopted.
     
  • September 12, 1900 -- W.R. Eastman, NYS Regents Library Inspector, inspected the library, inspected and approved the Library.
     
  • December 20, 1900, 3:30 P.M.  -- Patchogue Library's New York State Charter goes into effect.
     
  • 1902-1908 -- Library relocates to the southern end of the George M. Ackerly Block in a first floor sublet room (where today's Evolution barber shop is located at 46 S. Ocean Ave.).  Walter Jaycox's law office is located conveniently upstairs, and the Patchogue Advance office is only steps away, on the main level.
     
  •  1903-1908 -- Negotiations for a grant for a Carnegie Library grant proceed, in fits and starts.  Sorting out whose application (village official's vs. Library Board's) Carnegie is to proceed upon occupies 1903-04.  Requisite land is donated, in 1904, courtesy of Edwin Bailey, Sr. (at 10 Lake St.).  Architectural plans are considered, John Vredenburgh Van Pelt's is selected.  Construction begins in 1907.  The local construction company contracted by Van Pelt raises its workers' salaries amid construction adding in materials cost overruns, resulting in a financial impasse, and angry negotiations between Carnegie's Private Secretary, the Library Board, Van Pelt, the construction company, involving or nearly involving Andrew Carnegie, Van Pelt's mother, a well-placed friend of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton, eventually result in Carnegie's approval of a larger grant, after the public first approves additional long-term support.   
     
  • March 4, 1908 -- The Carnegie Library building is dedicated.
     
  • 1908-1981  -- The Carnegie Library era.
     
  • 1914-1945 -- The Custead Era:  Alma D. Custead, Librarian, leads the Library through the Roaring Twenties, Great Depression, and two World Wars; during which the Library assumes a leadership role among a growing number of Suffolk County libraries 
     
  • 1917-1918 -- The Library conducts a book drive for troops at Camp Upton and abroad.
     
  • 1939 -- Alma Custead coalesces a Suffolk County Library Association, in the 1920's-early 1930's, which is officially founded in this year, and becomes its first President.
     
  • 1941 -- The first Countywide (union) Catalog is created and housed at, and hosted by, Patchogue Library
     
  • 1942-1945 -- Library coordinates book drives, locally, then countywide for American troops
     
  • 1946-1952 -- The Wiggins Era:  Muriel Wiggins leads the Library through its 50th anniversary, and expansion of services.
     
  • 1950 -- Post-WWII suburban population growth and the baby boom leads to the first extension of services, by contract, to Medford residents
     
  • 1952-1984 -- Phipps Era:  Elaine Phipps, starting as head Librarian, becomes the Library's first designated Director, who sees the Library from the latter period of the Korean War, through 1950's "Happy Days", through the Sixties & Vietnam Era, the 70's and into the rumblings of the library automation and microcomputer  revolutions.   It was an age of growth and change.
     
  • 1958 -- A modern steel and glass Addition to the (architecturally much different) Carnegie Library is approved and built, roughly doubling the size of the Library.
     
  • 1961 -- Suffolk Cooperative Library System originates and begins operations in the Library basement; before moving to a Nabisco warehouse on W. Main St., then to its present facilities in N. Bellport.
     
  • 1966 -- Unsuccessful vote on a proposed Medford Branch.
     
  • 1967 -- Patchogue Library joins Huntington Public Library as State-designated co-central libraries for Suffolk County

 

Patchogue-Medford Library, 1973-Present
 

  • 1973 -- Patchogue-Medford Library:  Following the lead of the School District, the Library changes its name, by State Charter Amendment, and extends full service to all Medford residents, without need of contract.
     
  • January 1981 -- The Library moves to its present home (54-60 East Main St.), formerly a W.T. Grant store.   
     
  • 1981 -- The Carnegie Building becomes headquarters of Briarcliffe College, Patchogue Campus.
     
  • 1998  Briarcliffe College discontinues use of the Carnegie Building, administrative offices move to the former Lace Mill/former Swezey property.
     
  • 1998-2012 -- Carnegie Building reverts to Village ownership, its future under considerable debate.
     
  • 2011-2012  -- Friends of the Carnegie Library forms an influential grass-roots organization that successfully lobbies to save the library and have it moved by Tritech (owner of New Village).
     

  • 2012  -- Patchogue Village awards the Carnegie Library to Patchogue-Medford Library, which is moved to a new location on West Ave. and W. Main St.
     

  • 2013-2016 -- A new foundation is built, and the Carnegie Library is moved 300 ft. onto it (2013). Detailed restoration, construction, ADA compliance, and modern electrical and HVAC systems are installed, and the building is brought up to code.  The Main floor is become's PML's Teen Center and the Library is dedicated in 2016.

  • October 2017 -- Greater Patchogue Historical Society dedicates a museum in the Carnegie Library's lower level.