Libraries Past and Present

Frances Andreu - April 6th, 2015

April's a big month for libraries. And as many of us at NY Heritage are librarians, it's a big month for us too. In addition to being School Library Month, April 12-18 is National Library Week, April 14 is National Library Workers Day, and National Bookmobile Day is April 15. I strongly encourage you to check out your local public and school libraries for any special programs or events.

But also be sure to celebrate the history of libraries in New York State. Here, on New York Heritage, there are a number of collections featuring the libraries and librarians of the past.

In Newark Public Library's collection you can follow the history of the  library, chartered in 1897 with the help of Reverend Charles W. Tomlinson. The cornerstone was laid in 1900 and the library would continue to expand over the next 90 years.

cornerstone Order of Ceremonies of the Laying of the Cornerstone of Newark Public Library - 1900
Canalers Summer Reading Club at Newark Public Library - 1959 Canalers Summer Reading Club at Newark Public Library - 1959

The Buffalo & Erie County Public Library have a collection commemorating its 175th Anniversary (as of 2011), tracing its roots back to the year 1836 when the Young Men's Association (YMA) was established as a member/subscription library that coexisted with the Grosvenor Library, established in 1871 as a public reference library. They eventually combined with The Buffalo Public Library and the Erie County Public Library to form the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

buffalostoryhour Story Hour with Marion Humble - c.1900s
bookmobile Interior of bookmobile - c.1970

Beyond the public, libraries supplement a number of institutions, including hospitals and medical centers. These nurses used to run the Highland Hospital library on a volunteer basis.

highlandnurses Portrait of five volunteer librarians from Highland Hospital - c. 1937
highlandlibrary Two nurses wearing the nursing cap volunteering in the library - c.1937

Libraries have been pivotal in storing and safe-keeping our history and heritage, but more than that, libraries are also a part of our history. So keep that in mind this month, and as you're celebrating what libraries are doing for you in the present, remember how they are also a piece of your past.

Happy researching! 

cardcatalog A librarian checks a large card catalog's drawer for a bibliographic record at Hamilton College - c.1975