“What do you envision the library will be like 20, 30 or even 50 years from now?” That is an often-asked and difficult question to answer. In 1948 no one could have envisioned the types of services and variety of formats for providing information that patrons have access to in 2005. Who ever would have thought when the library installed the first telephone so that patrons could put books on reserve and be notified when the book came in that someday patrons would be able to put books on reserve using a computer in the library or at home? No matter what services are offered and what changes take place in the library, one key component of the library that will never change is the people. As it was so clearly stated by Librarian Helen Wright in the early 1950s, the library is not “books, it is people.” A building with books is a warehouse; a building with people helping other people to use the books or other resources is a library. The role of the library is to provide people with a place to obtain information, find pleasure reading, and gather together to share ideas. No matter what shape the library takes in the future, it would not have been possible without the hard work of those who took a dream and turned it into reality.
In the fall of 1946, the Baldwinsville Travelers Club formed a library committee to investigate establishing a library in the village. The headline in the April 24, 1947 issue of The Messenger read, “Travelers Club Proposed Start of Public Library.” The article stated: “Steps taken by the Baldwinsville Travelers Club in pioneering a movement to establish a public library in the community were made public by the club’s library investigation committee. Members of the club have been asked to inaugurate a fund for a library by submitting contributions at the club’s next meeting May 9.”
The article included a complete report on the findings of the committee including recommendations on budget, collection size, and schedule of hours. Thus the work began to turn the dream of a public library in Baldwinsville into a reality. The library opened its doors for the first time on January 6, 1948, in two rooms of the Lysander Town Building, formerly a trolley station. The library was open for service three days a week for a total of 20-1/2 hours. Total operating budget was $4,000 for salaries, books, supplies, furniture, and rent.
On January 8, 1948, The Messenger stated: “Book lovers were charmed by the wide selection of interesting books and the peaceful atmosphere of the new Baldwinsville Library which opened officially Tuesday at 2 PM in the rear room of the Town of Lysander building on East Genesee Street. Baskets of flowers provided by the Travelers Club, merchants of the village, and Mrs. Marion Baker, florist, added to the pleasant, fresh decorations of the reading room. Over 1,000 volumes are placed on the departmentalized shelves of the library and have been made conveniently available to book borrowers by Mrs. Ruth Connell, librarian and Mrs. Helen Wright, assistant librarian.”
During the first year of operation, 9,208 items were circulated with a total attendance of 7,443. The collection held 3,223 items. In addition to books the library provided story times, reading programs, and art exhibits.
In February of 1953, the Friends of the Library was organized as the result of committee initiative of the Baldwinsville Travelers Club. The organization continues to provide financial support and promote community interest in the library. Over the years the Friends has sponsored many events including card parties, fashion shows, coffee hours, suppers, and book reviews.
As the library grew, the need for a larger facility became apparent. On November 13, 1956, the library opened its doors at 17 Charlotte Street in a renovated house. The library continued to grow and flourish in its new home.
In 1961, the Onondaga Library System (now the Onondaga County Pubic Library System) was organized. Membership in this system allowed the Baldwinsville Library to cooperate and share service with other libraries, and included having one library card good at all member libraries and interlibrary loan, as well as book processing, printing, and consultant services from the system headquarters.
On May 7, 1974, the voters of Baldwinsville approved a proposal to become a school district public library. The library became, and still is, financed by taxpayers in the Baldwinsville Central School District. Once again it was time to consider a larger facility. In 1975, the library moved to the former Woolworth’s at 43 Oswego Street.
By the early nineties the library had grown in terms of usage and the variety of services being offered, which included access to books, pamphlets, audiotapes, videotapes, microfilm, and CD-ROM reference tools. Other library services included story times for ages 3 months to 8 years, reading clubs, lectures, babysitting classes, children’s programs, events for young adults, and a microcomputer area. In 1993, the Baldwinsville Public Library became the first library in Onondaga County to offer public access to the Internet.
The library Board of Trustees determined that the Oswego Street facility was no longer adequate for the increased use of the library and the changes in technology. In the fall of 1993, a public referendum was overwhelmingly passed for the purpose of constructing a new facility. On October 29, 1994, the community gathered at the Oswego Street location and paraded to the East Genesee Street location where everyone used their shovels to break ground. Thus construction began on a 20,700 square foot building, which was the first building in Baldwinsville designed specifically for use as a library.
October 29, 1995 was an exciting day as over 2,500 people participated in the Grand Opening of the new library. The new facility provided additional meeting space, quiet study areas, a computer lab, and a reference desk, and it was wired to accommodate new technology. There is a community art gallery that features local professional and amateur artists. In addition to the 20,7000 square feet there is a basement, which will allow for expansion in the future.
Since the new library building opened in 1995, library services have been expanded in a number of ways. In addition to providing informational and recreational materials in a variety of formats, the library maintains a local history room. The local history collection contains historical and genealogical information about Baldwinsville, Clay, Lysander, and Van Buren. It is continually being enhanced so that information about the past, as well as current events, may be preserved for future generations.
The Female Charitable Society purchased equipment in memory of Ruth Connell, the first librarian. They gave the library a large type computer with access to the Internet and the library catalog, as well as word-processing, spreadsheet and database programs, which is available for use by library patrons. The computer has speech software, a large print keyboard, a large screen, and a magnifier for print materials.
In 1996, with the installation a local area network and an Internet upgrade from a dial-up connection to a lease line, the library was able to launch a webpage. Eventually the library was able to purchase database subscriptions to full text magazine indexes, encyclopedias, and business/financial directories that people could use in the library. In recent years the library catalog and many of the database subscriptions have been made available for home use via the Internet. All that is needed is an Onondaga County Public Library card and pin number.
While people can still walk in to the library or call for assistance with a reference question, people now have additional options of sending a question via e-mail, chatting live with a librarian 24/7 or texting a librarian.
Public access computers has grown from three computers and an electric typewriter to 30 PCs complete with USB ports, CD drives and CD burners. It is possible to do word processing and create databases, spreadsheets, signs, invitations, etc. The Internet connection has been upgraded to a high-speed connection. All computers are connected to a copier/printer where one can make photocopies or print from a computer in black & white or color as well as scan to a USB.
The Friends of the Library and the Baldwinsville Travelers Club donated the funds needed to purchase a laptop and video projector. The equipment allows projection of videos, DVDs and computer images onto a movie screen.
With the assistance of a special legislative grant from Assemblyman William Magnarelli, the library has upgraded the network server. The upgrade also includes wireless service which allows people to sit anywhere in the library and access the Internet on their laptop. In 2010 the library was awarded a Public Computer Center Grant as part of the Broadbandexpress@your library project from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The funds have enabled the library to: expand the existing computer services by adding more computers, offer one-on-one and classroom instruction on a variety of topics geared specifically to job seekers, small business owners and senior citizens, purchase books and DVDs for loan and make software programs available for job seekers and small business owners, purchase videoconferencing equipment which will be available for use by the public and not-for-profit organizations. The library continues to look at new technology and how it can be integrated with traditional library services. Recent additions to the collection include downloadable audio books and e-books, downloadable music, interactive children's books and Playaways (digital books on players the size of a cell phone.)
In 2010 the Baldwinsville Public Library was awarded a $244,517 Public Computer Center grant as part of the Broadbandexpress@your library project from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Baldwinsville Public Library was one of thirty libraries across New York State to receive this federal stimulus grant through the New York State Library. The grant will provide more than 860 computers in 30 libraries and five mobile training centers across 41 upstate New York counties. As a part of this grant, the library expanded hours to open at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Friday.
The funding has allowed the library to:
· Expand the existing computer services by adding more computers
· Offer one-on-one and classroom instruction on a variety of topics geared specifically to job seekers, small business owners, and senior citizens
· Purchase books and DVDs for loan and make software programs available for job seekers and small business owners
· Purchase videoconferencing equipment which will be available for use to public and not-for-profit organizations.
The library continues to offer tours to school and community groups. Librarians are also available to visit schools and speak to community groups. The library offers a wide variety of programs and resources for all ages. They are designed to provide community residents with activities which support their pursuit of personal, educational, and professional interests, as well as cultural, recreational, and leisure activities.
Many services that the library offers today in a building designed as a library would never have been envisioned when the library first opened in the trolley station in 1948. Thus the question “What do you envision the library will be like 20, 30 or even 50 years from now?” is still hard to answer. However, for today, we can thank those who came before us for having the vision to establish the library and help it to continue evolving as it responds to the needs of the community. Let us celebrate the remarkable opportunities afforded to all in the modern library and look with anticipation to the promise of the future.
The Baldwinsville Public Library will provide community residents with timely, accurate, and useful information in their pursuit of personal, educational, and professional interests, as well as access to a varied collection of popular materials to support cultural, recreational, and leisure activities. Emphasis will be placed on stimulating young children's interests and appreciation for reading and learning, and supporting students in meeting educational objectives, particularly at the elementary and secondary levels.
Adopted October 1988
Amended August 1997
Baldwinsville Public Library
Board of Trustees