1909, Civic Improvement League and the Library

During the first year of its existence, 1909, the Civil League Board was informed of the work of the Y.M.C.A… This organization offered its library as a nucleus for a public library. Members of the Civic League began action on such an institution. At this time other villages were accepting the generosity of Andrew Carnegie for library buildings but the Whitehall ladies rejected that path. They wrote a newspaper article to the two papers of Whitehall, the Times and the Chronicle, listing the needs for and the benefits of such an institution in Whitehall. With the article they included a coupon for an expression of opinion of the taxpayers to be handed in.

In March a standing vote was taken on the favorable results of this vote. Possible sites had already been examined; Miller’s store, the Shantee (Log Cabin), and Sullivan’s rooms, but the ladies settled on the basement of Mrs. Gertrude Adams in a brick building on the corner of Wilson Alley and Williams Street with rent at $6. The building burned some: years ago.

The members of the league contributed furniture and at least one good book. Mr. Lowenstein of the Champlain Silk Mills was solicited for some book cases which he donated. The ladies also sewed rags for a rug.

In April the Civic League made a request to the village Trustees for $300 to assist with the formation and maintenance of the library. Their reception was gratifying but they were requested to ask for an amount in January so that the sum could become an established part of the budget. The village trustees held a special meeting to hear the request. They also informed the Civic League that if the town would make a like contribution the library would be called the Whitehall Public Library; if not it would be called the Whitehall Free Library the town did not appropriate the $300 at that time and so the latter name was used. On the refusal of the town to grant money, it was not in the budget at that time, a subscription paper was circulated and the citizens subscribed much more than the amount asked for.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Independent – March 4, 1987