A Short History of The Woodstock Public Library District
Excerpted from The Story of a Small Town Library (http://midhudsonlibraries NULL.org:80/record=b1371885~S1), by Frances Rogers, 1974:
On a chilly Wednesday evening in November of 1913, a group of Woodstockers gathered at the Fireman’s Hall to learn first hand about the newly formed Woodstock Club. Founder of the experimental Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Ralph Whitehead, started the club along with Charter members Walter Weyl and Dr. Mortimer Downer, to set up a nurses fund and to create a library. How would the club pay for these services? By charging members yearly dues of $1.00, and the club would buy a moving picture machine and hold picture shows once or twice a week at the Fireman’s Hall.
A local builder and contractor, George Neher, was so impressed by what the club could do for Woodstock that he offered the use of a building located behind what is now the Center for Photography, and the essence of The Woodstock Public Library was born. Woodstockers could now enjoy the warmth of text beside the warmth of a $40 coal stove and read far more books than they themselves could afford to buy.
The motion picture shows got off to a rocky start with the power supply to the projector breaking down at unpredictable times. Eventually, a better projector system was purchased and in 1918, a Market Fair was started as a war project to aid the red cross. Funds from the Market Fair contributed generously to the Woodstock Club over the years, as the Fair flourished: with Ethel Peet’s flowers and stuffed eggs as eagerly awaited as Marion Bullard’s sponge cake. Paint rags, contributed from attics and scrap bags all over the village, were rolled up, tied in bales and sold to art students. That, along with funds from the picture shows, kept the Club going through the 1920’s.
The creative talent in this area grew, and the artists contributed greatly to the library. Some of them helped to build a unique collection of art books that is, to this day, unusually comprehensive. Artists helped make the Woodstock Library different from other small-town libraries, although collection space became increasingly cramped and funding was always a challenge.
The Club desired to create a gathering place for the entire community, and especially a place that encouraged a healthy habit of reading amongst the young. The Club believed that Woodstock was ready and willing to support a Library worthy of its collections of books and in keeping with its growth and development in all directions. The Club expected and asked for support from everyone, and by one means or another, they got it.
In 1927 the Club moved to a house whose oldest rooms may have been built as early as 1775. On Library Lane facing Tinker Street, the house had been originally purchased by Victor Lasher’s grandmother, and prior to the Club’s occupancy, it was used as a doctor’s office and then an apartment for summer tenants who could do without running water and indoor plumbing. Within the year, the Club received a gift of $5000 to purchase the land from Victor Lasher and the Woodstock Club officially deeded the property to the Woodstock Library for $1.00. This has been the Library’s home ever since.
1931 saw the first Library Fair on Library grounds, with many booths erected and a variety of goods displayed, including pictures, lithographs and art books; hand-sewn dresses and aprons; and homemade pies and cakes. There were games, music, tea and a pet show, where ribbons and prizes were awarded for the fastest wagging tail, the most beautiful animal and the animal with the most spots. A happening such as this in Woodstock, the home of so many famous artists, made news in The New York Times. The Fair has since become an anticipated yearly event from which locals and visitors to Woodstock carry away memories of one of the most delightful and fun times ever to be had in a small village.
Funds raised from the Fair and generous gifts over the years allowed modest renovations and additions to be made to the old building, the last renovation in the 1980’s creating the physical library of today. Only one original feature remains: the 18 wooden stars on the exterior, representing the number of states in the union at the time.
Dependable funding for day-to-day operations was secured in 1989, when the Library changed its status to a special legislative district library by a public vote. This meant stable tax-based funding for the library and accountability to the community. The registered voters of Woodstock were now empowered to elect the board of trustees and vote on the Library’s budget. This election happens annually in September. The 11-member Library board meets monthly, and all Library board meetings are open to the public.
Woodstock is now ready to move its Library into the 21st century with a modern Annex that will reflect the innovative maverick spirit of the community and add to its continuing growth. The story of a thriving small-town library continues.
“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” – Albert Einstein
The Woodstock Public Library district has two primary missions:
- To facilitate learning and self-education for the community.
- To encourage all children to develop an ongoing interest in reading and learning.
The Library will select, organize and circulate books, periodicals and other resource materials and media necessary to these primary missions. The Library will promote, on an ongoing basis, a community-wide awareness of the Library’s resources.
- Jessica A. Kerr: Library Director
- Kim Apolant: Librarian I
- Lesley Sawhill: Coordinator of Children’s Services
- Linda McAteer: Library Technician
- Hollie Ferrara: Library Clerk
- Mei Moi Lee: Library Clerk
- Nan Salomon: Library Clerk
- Willy Kane: Library Clerk
- Nick Costanzo: Library Page
Structure of the Library:
The Woodstock Public Library District was created by Chapter 499 of the Laws of 1989 (New York State). The district is governed by a publicly elected eleven member board of trustees. The term of office is five years. Candidates run at large.
The annual election to fill board vacancies is held on the first Thursday in September. Prospective board members must petition for candidacy. Eligibility to vote in the Library District election is based on eligibility to vote in the Woodstock town elections.
Board of Trustees (2017):
- Dorothea Marcus: President – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Barry Miller: Vice President – email@example.com
- Liz Rosen: Treasurer – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Selma Kaplan: Secretary – email@example.com
- Jill Fisher: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Elaine Hammond: email@example.com
- Jesse Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tamara Katzowitz: email@example.com
- David Lewis: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Barry Samuels: email@example.com
Information on previous and future Board Meetings can be found here.
The Board of Trustees meets the third Thursday of the month on the following dates in 2017 at 7:00pm in the Library. Happens in the Reading Room. All meetings are open to the public:
January 19, February 16, March 16, April 20, May 18, June 15 (First Budget Discussion), July 6 (Second Budget Discussion) July 20 (Final Budget Discussion), August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21. Reorganization meeting January 4, 2018.
The Woodstock Library was established in 1913 in a converted barn. A budget of $40 paid for some bookshelves, a few chairs, and a coal stove; the books were donated.
Woodstock Shelf Room:
This special collection (located in the reading room) consists of works written, illustrated, or published by people connected to Woodstock, NY. The Woodstock Shelf has existed since the 1930s. The following is a quote from The Story of a Small Town Library: The Development of the Woodstock, NY Library (http://midhudsonlibraries NULL.org:80/record=b1371885~S1), by Frances Rogers (p. 80-81), when criteria for inclusion on the shelf was much more stringent:
Miss Doughty read from her typed notes: “I have been asked to determine what the Book Committee thinks about the Woodstock Shelf. Well, there seems to be a difference of opinion about the famous shelf. A few thought it should be done away with entirely, others did not. One member suggested that any writer who visited here of who spent a summer here should be included, but the majority felt that the Woodstock Shelf should represent writers whose interests were closely connected with Woodstock and, when put to a vote, the following rule was passed: A writer whose work is represented on the Woodstock Shelf must own a home in Woodstock Township, or vote in Woodstock, or have lived within the Township for five season, not necessarily consecutive.”
This is a non-circulated collection to be enjoyed within the library. Items are shelved alphabetically (http://midhudsonlibraries NULL.org/search/c?SEARCH=Woodstock+shelf&sortdropdown=a&searchscope=83) by the last name of author, illustrator, or publisher connected to Woodstock.