History of the Baldwin Public Library

Baldwin Public Library
In January 1919, shortly after the close of World War I a movement was suggested to show appreciation to the boys who had fought and died in the service of their country. The women of the Advance Club decided that their memorial to the boys would be a Free Library, as a "lasting memorial" and a service to all.

The first location of the Library would be near the Long Island Railroad crossing at Grand Avenue. There stood a group of stores which were owned by Mr. J. R. Seaman, a builder and he offered to rent one of the stores to the club to be used as a library. In March of 1919, the ladies voted to accept the offer and they decided to rent the first floor of the large building at No. 7 South Grand Avenue. The lease was signed in May, 1919 for a period of one year at $10.00 per month.

Old and new books of all types were donated by members and solicited by friends. Everyone worked to put the building in readiness, and on October 24, 1919 the Baldwin Free Library opened its doors to the public. Miss F .C. Davern, a teacher in the school system, was the first librarian, giving her services after school and on Saturdays. The club members cared for the library, catalogued books and read to children's groups.

The work of the library progressed and the number of books increased, and by the end of the first year it became necessary to seek larger quarters. It was brought to the members attention that a store at the corner of Foxhurst Road and Grand Avenue was "for sale." The owner of the store was Mr. Charles Wortman, whose wife was a charter member of the club. For a number of years this had been the General Store, and the site of the first telephone exchange in Baldwin.

At a special meeting of the members held on March 22, 1921, the 25 members present passed a resolution that the club be incorporated under the name "Woman's Advance Club of Baldwin, Inc." In the meantime, the property was purchased by a friend and benefactor of the Club, Mr. William G. Bixby and held until the Club received its charter and was able to take the title. In April, 1921 the papers of incorporation was received and the Library Committee reported the purchase for $10,000 of the triangular corner of Grand Avenue and Foxhurst Road. Many busy days were spent getting the building ready and in the Spring of 1921 the Club opened the doors of the "new library" to the public.

On February 9, 1922 the Library was registered with the State Education Department in Albany in order to receive the state grant of $100.00. As Albany required a Board of Trustees to assume responsibility for library affairs, the members voted that the Board of Directors of the Woman's Advance Club, which had been taking care matters, serve in the capacity of Trustees of the Baldwin Free Library.

Early in 1932, realizing that the cost and responsibilities of the library had become too great for one organization, and that the library might be made more valuable to the people of Baldwin if it had sufficient financial support, the Woman's Advance Club decided to offer the library to the Baldwin School District. On April 21, 1932, at a special meeting of the Woman's Advance Club, by unanimous vote of the 22 members present, it was formally agreed to transfer to the school district all property, real and personal, on condition that the district assume the payment of the existing mortgage of $4,800.00. On July 5, 1932, in the auditorium of the Baldwin High School on Pershing Boulevard, the voters of Union Free School District #10, Town of Hempstead, met to decide the following two propositions (among others):

Proposition #1: Shall a public library be established in Union Free School District No. 10, Town of Hempstead Nassau County?

Proposition #2: Shall the offer of the Woman's Advance Club of Baldwin, Inc., to convert to the District for the establishment of such a public library, all of its property real and personal be accepted?

In spite of expressed opposition, the taxpayers, by a vote of 108 to 76, ratified the propositions to relieve Woman's Advance Club of the Baldwin Free Library and to maintain it as part of the School District. On Thursday, December 8, 1932, at their annual Christmas party held at the home of the president, Mrs. George Bode, the Woman's Advance Club with all the library trustees present, turned over the state charter, keys, and deed to the property to Willard Bixby, the President of the Board. From that moment on the maintenance of the library passed into the hands of the School District, to be supported by the taxpayers of the district, and thenceforth to be known as the "Baldwin Public Library."

In the middle of 1950 the library was faced with a problem of major proportions. The Library Board was informed that Nassau County was considering the widening of Foxhurst Road and that "the latest plan would deprive the library of 6,700 feet of it's 15,000 square feet, leaving little more than the ground on which the library actually stands." After learning of these considerations, recommendations were made to the Board that immediate action be taken to obtain a new site for the library. After nearly 10 years of committee meetings, discussions, letters, petitions, polls, reports, votes on various proposed locations, and campaigns, a decision was finally made by the voters. On October 28, 1959 a vote of 1,196 to 987 approved a $375,000.00 bond to build a new library at 2385 Grand Avenue.

While construction of the new library was taking place, the Baldwin Public Library submitted a request for membership into the Nassau Library System on April 21, 1960. The library is still a member today.

In November 1961, the general contractors announced that they had finished their work and that the building was now ready for equipment and shelving which was completed by the middle of December 1961 and the Board made plans for Opening Day. The Board decided to permanently close the old library building on December 20, 1961 and the date of the opening of the new library was scheduled for Monday, January 15, 1962, with formal opening ceremonies to be held on the preceding day, Sunday, January 14.

Today the library's Mission Statement is: The Baldwin Library is an educational, cultural and recreational institution serving all ages and interests in the Baldwin community. It is the mission of the Baldwin Public Library to provide programs and services to promote enlightened citizenship and enrich personal lives.

Some Key Dates (1919 to Present):

- October 24, 1919: The first library in Baldwin was established by the Women's Advance Club.

- March 22, 1921: Members of the Woman's Advance Club held a special meeting to pass a resolution that the club be incorporated under the name "Woman's Advance Club" which was a requirement in order to purchase land for the 2nd location of the library located at the corner of Grand Avenue & Foxhurst Road.

- February 9, 1922: The library was registered with the New York State Education Department in Albany. The Board of Directors of the Woman's Advance Club served in the capacity of Trustees of the "Baldwin Free Library."

- December 8, 1932: The Woman's Advance Club, at their annual Christmas party held at the home of the President, Mrs. George Bode, turned over the State Charter, keys and deed for the Baldwin Free Library to the School District thenceforward, it was known as the "Baldwin Public Library."

- August 2, 1933: The Children's Room, adjacent to the Main Reading Room of the old Baldwin Public Library located in-between Grand Avenue & Foxhurst Road, opened as a separate unit with Mrs. Esther Cook as Children's Librarian.

- May 1943: A store front, located on Grand Avenue near Stanton Avenue, was leased by the Library for $30.00 a month. This branch was later shut down.

- May 4, 1959: Proposition was unanimously approved for a new library building on the southeast corner of Grand Avenue and Prospect Street which is where the library remains to this day.

- January 14, 1964: Present location of the Baldwin Public Library, located on the corner of Grand Avenue and Prospect Street was formally opened.

- October 1964: "To keep you better informed on library activities this bulletin will be issued from time to time."
Volume 1, Number 1 of our Piper Newsletter was published.

- April 3, 1965: The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Baldwin Chapter, at a dedication ceremony, presented the library with a twenty-eight foot high aluminum flagpole which had been installed in the library Atrium. Congressman Frank Becker presented the American flag which came complete with a certificate stating that it had flown over the nation's capitol.

- January 7, 1966: Received a request from a television program called Candid Camera, a show which caught people in the act of being themselves, to film some sequences at the library. The library received a check for $50.00 for the courtesy the staff extended to the show.

- Fall 1968: First suggestion box was installed at the main Circulation Desk.

- March 1970: Library Director Helen M. MacDonough retires

- June 22, 1970: Walter Haber takes over as Director of the Baldwin Public Library. He became the first male Director in the history of the library. His appointment marked only the second time that a man had served on the professional staff. (Mr. Myron Roochvarg having been the Assistant to the Director from 1967 to 1968)

- January 1972: Baldwin households received, by mail, a copy of the "New Piper" newsletter. The new Piper was a printed 4-page edition containing news of the library and its activities past, present and future, photographs, information about the staff and letters to the editor.

- April 1972: Construction of a new mezzanine was completed in the Adult Reference area.

- May 1983: A referendum for the expansion of the library, which would have cost $1,969,140 ($4,973,773.25 in 2018), was defeated. The passage of this referendum would have resulted in a triple-level addition.

- 1984: A Computer terminal was installed at the Reference Desk with a direct hookup to the Nassau Library Union Catalog making it possible to quickly determine holdings of of the other member libraries.

- January 1986: Residents approved a bond in the amount of $806,000 for acquisition of the European American Bank (EAB) building located next door to the library.

- April 30, 1986: Walter Haber, Library Director since 1970, retires.

- June 14, 1987: Groundbreaking ceremony for the future Children's Wing took place.

- May 7, 1989: Dedicated of the new Children's Wing took place. Note: This wing was later demolished during an expansion project (2002 to 2005) which resulted in the Children's Room we have today.

- August 1991: The library began offering public access computers for adults.

- 1996: The library retired the card catalog.

- January 17, 2001: A vote was held to approve a Library Expansion Project. Community Members voted and approved the expansion of the Baldwin Public Library and in 2005, the newly expanded library opened.

- November 17, 2002: Groundbreaking ceremonies for additions and renovations took place. These changes are how the library remains to this day.

- September 25, 2005: Grand Opening festivities were held after the expansion of the library was completed. The expansion took 3 years to complete (2002-2005) and took the form of how the library looks today.

- July 23, 2013: John Starks, former player for the New York Knicks basketball team visits the Baldwin Public Library and reads to children as part of the New York Knicks Read to Achieve initiative.

- October 5, 2019: A Centennial Gala is held inside the Library celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Baldwin Public Library.

- October 24, 2019: The Baldwin Public Library officially celebrates its 100th Anniversary.

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