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

Whitehall Civic Improvement League

Members of the Civic League continued to support the Whitehall Free Library with projects such as card parties, subscriptions, and volunteer labor while still holding their meetings in its rooms. In October 1911 a report was made to the League that the village trustees were attempting to gain control of land north of the bridge and the League was requested to cooperate in securing the Historical Building where the library would have rooms. Nothing was reported in the minutes until May 19, 1924 when the minutes read that the Civic League held its meeting in the new library for the first time.

This must have meant the library that was located on the second floor of the village building until it was transferred in 1953 to the present Griswold Library given to the village. During this period Miss Bessie Buel and Mrs. Lorraine Dannehy were librarians. Evidently the Whitehall Free Library had become an entity of its own. The Civic League held its meetings here for some years before meeting in other public places and in homes of its members.

At the April 1909 meeting ten members were chosen for the Library Committee. Only members of the Civic League could be trustees but everyone could use the library. These first trustees were the Mesdames, W. G. C. Wood, B. H. Bascom, J. Q. Edwards, O. A. Dennis, C. J. Baldwin, F. L. Andrews, Jack Israel, George Noyes, and the Misses Julia Bascom and Lulu Lotrace. Later when a State Inspector visited the library he was astonished that only one woman had accomplished such an institution and suggested a man should be on the board. Men had been given an honorary membership in the first year.

By June 1909 the shelves had been installed in the library, the catalog completed, books in order, and Esther Adams hired as a librarian. To separate the books on the shelves in divisions it was suggested that covered bricks be used June 7 a date for a Library Day be observed, the third Sunday in June.

In November 1919 Mrs. Brown of the State Library Association came to view the library. By this time there were 504 books and many magazine subscriptions. She suggested a larger supply of children’s books, catering to special interests such as agriculture and ethnic groups of the town, and that the two newspapers and cuttings of the town events would be on file. (lf only this had happened what a resource of material would be on hand.) It seems that games were provided for the library hours and it was now evident that special hours and a separate room be restricted for use when the library was not open.

In October the Whitehall Free Library had a State Charter, a constitution had been drawn up and read, and all reports of the library were given for publication in the two newspapers. On 23 November 1909 it was voted that all Civic League meetings would be held thereafter in the library instead of Williams Street School.

Members met there until they transferred later to the Community Association rooms.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Independent – March 11, 1987

Whitehall in 1887

The railroad Y.M.C.A. was very active one hundred years ago in its building on Canal Street. Its building, north of the present Knights of Columbus building, burned in 1911, and was replaced by the K. of C. home.

In 1887 the members, believing that a good library was one of the requirements of success in any association established a circulating library in its rooms. One of the first methods of obtaining books for its collection was to have an entertainment, admission to which would be a good book. Superintendent C. D. Hammond furnished a large bookcase. The employees of the D & H along the line favored the project. The library soon had 150 volumes. House cleaners had been urged to send their books.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – April 2, 1987

A Library in 1885

A hundred years ago establishing a library was an affair of cooperation among interested citizens. Several such collections were made over the years. Such a one was made in 1885.

The room chosen was over the Sullivan and Company’s store in the Pippo building. It was furnished with bookcases, desks and chairs for the village library. The desks moved from the Union School were neatly painted and grained to give the needed shelf room.

Over 1,000 books were collected from various sources and placed on the shelves. They were ready to be cataloged. At that time this process was a laborious one for the librarian. There was no central place where this service was provided complete with cards.

A call went out for books. “Now is the time to send whatever works you may be willing to contribute to the library.” Perhaps this is where the idea was gained that all unwanted books could be given to the library. This idea is not altogether useless for many volumes of value come to light.

An effort was being made to secure the “Alvord Library,” evidently sold in a series to subscribers as many such had consented to send their copies to the library. This would add 100 volumes to the collection.

Another source of books was publishing companies. Messrs. Ivison, Blakeman, Taylor and Company sent about 20 volumes, among them a fine atlas of the United States. A. S. Barnes and Co. forwarded a lot of 15 volumes of miscellaneous books. A popular history, U. S. Carrington’s Battles of the American Revolution and a memoir of President Garfield was among them.

The principal of the Union School, Professor Miller, contributed 30 volumes of new books. Among these were a set of 11 volumes of Washington Irving; Miss Young’s history on England, France, Rome and others, six volumes in all; Macauley’s England in five volumes; and light volumes of Macauley’s Essays. Evidently the high school had increased its collection of books from the time it had received the library of the second Whitehall Academy when it was dissolved so that it could give some away.
What a difference there is in the concept of a library today 100 years later. The school library with its fine collection of books has all the other attributes to add to youth’s training in microfilm, slides, magazines, computers, and other materials. It evolved in formal collection from the classroom libraries in the back of the rooms of Miss Waite and Miss Layden at Central building. The village library has grown from collections of donated books to it services in association with the Southern Adirondack Library System. Both are ready to serve youth and adults alike.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – December 11, 1986

Whitehall CHRONICLE 1870’s

In May 1870 an inquiring person around town asked why the libraries of the old
Academy and that of the Y.M.C.A. were housed in a farm house outside the village.
Investigation found that in 1865 when the Academy was sold by mortgage foreclosure.
A. C. Cooke purchased it and was in possession of the library and laboratory equipment.
He took the materials to his farm, then on the site of the present Methodist Church.
When the Y.M.C.A. was organized the collection was sent there with the books in a
suitable bookcase. When these rooms were given up, R. C. Cook took possession of
them until the Opera House was ready to receive them. However the Opera House was
not ready at that time but the new school was. This would make the statement that the
library and laboratory equipment of the Academy went to the new high school.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – June 23, 1988