Freeport Memorial Library History

Library History

The Freeport Memorial Library was established in 1884 by Professor Loren M. Burdick, principal of the Freeport Schools, with funds raised by amateur entertainments. For a while, the books were kept in the clothes closet of the principal’s office in the Grove Street School. In 1895, the Board of Regents of New York State granted a provisional charter. The following year 759 volumes constituted the Library’s book collection and circulation reached 1,174. A permanent charter, signed by Melvil Dewey, was granted on December 21, 1899.

The Library was housed in the school until 1911 when it was moved to a rented room in the Miller Building on South Grove Street . Members paid ten cents for a card and were permitted to borrow two books, one fiction and one nonfiction. In 1920, the first public drive for funds for a new building was started. Elizabeth Pirodsky, a sixth grade student at the Seaman Avenue School, was the first donor. In August 1920, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., assemblyman for the Second District and the late President’s son, sent the Freeport Memorial Library Association a $20 donation. Assemblyman Roosevelt also issued a statement commending the choice made for a memorial and encouraged gifts from the American Legion members. One thousand citizens of the Village of Freeport voluntarily contributed $36,500 to the fund drive. John Anderson, owner of the site of the new building at the corner of Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue, was paid $14,775 for the land. Ground was broken for the Library on the northwest corner of Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue on April 30, 1921. The cornerstone was laid on June 25, 1922. On Memorial Day in 1924, the Beaux Arts building, designed by architect Charles M. Hart was dedicated as the first war memorial library in New York State. In 1925, the Freeport Library officially changed its name to the Freeport Memorial Library. Three years later, a memorial tablet with the names of Freeporters who died while serving in the military during the Civil War, Spanish American War, and World War I was dedicated. This table included the inscription: “In this Memorial / As in the hearts of the people of Freeport / The Memorial of the Men and Women who served in the / Wars of our Country will be enshrined forever.”

The completion of the Freeport Memorial Library building was an appropriate climax to the efforts of the citizens of the village to find a suitable and lasting memorial to the sacrifices made by those who died in the service of their country. A close look at the engravings on the original building reveals the names of the historic battles of World War I, the Spanish American War, and Civil War.

Population growth, the increased use of the Library, and a necessarily expanding book collection, soon made the original Library building inadequate. Work towards a new addition was begun to meet these needs. On Sunday afternoon, April 19, 1959, a new wing was dedicated.

In 1982, on the 90th anniversary of the Village of Freeport the residents elected to expand their Library once again. By purchasing the building adjacent to it, the Library was expanded to twice its size (48,359 square feet). The new addition was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1985. This expansion allowed the original reading room to be restored and plaques honoring Freeporters who died in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, were added. Today the Freeport Memorial Library is one of the largest public library facilities in Nassau County .

Library Timeline

1884

Library was established by Grove Street School Principal

 

 

1895

Provisional charter granted by the State Board of Regents to the Freeport Public Library

 

 

1896

Freeport’s population was 2250

 

 

 1898

 The Library had a total of 1,354 books.  Between 120 and 150 books were borrowed each week

 

 

1899

Permanent charter, signed by Melvil Dewey, founder of the American Library Association and creator of the Dewey Decimal Classification system, obtained

 

 

1903

Professor Eugene S. McKinley, acting librarian, received a letter from Andrew Carnegie offing $10,000 to erect a free public library if Freeport could provide a suitable location and guarantee $1000 a year be dedicated to the Library. No documentation has been found to explain why Freeport declined Mr. Carnegie's offer

   

1904

Library adopted the Dewey Decimal Classification System

 

 

1908

Alice Rogan appointed the first librarian

 

 

1911

Library moved to the Miller Building, 28 South Grove Street (now Guy Lombardo Avenue)

 

 

1919

September 1, 1919 - Monument and tree dedicated on Brooklyn Avenue in memory of Freeport firefighter and World War I casualty, Henry Theodore Mohr by the Freeport Fire Department. Monument and tree later relocated to the Library grounds

 

 

1920

Freeport’s population reached 8600

1920

Drive was started for public subscription for funds to build the library

1920

August 10, 1920 - $20 donation sent to the Freeport Memorial Library Association from Assemblyman Theodore Roosevelt (the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and a founder of the American Legion)

1920

September 9, 1920 – Contract drawn up for purchase of land for Library building

 

 

1921

Freeport Memorial Library Association sent a letter to the White House inviting President Warren G. Harding to the cornerstone laying ceremony

1921

April 30, 1921- ground was broken for the new building

1921

Joseph Susskind of Blossom Health Inn, located in Lynbrook, donated a Peerless automobile to be used for fundraising to support Library construction

 

 

1922 

President Warren G. Harding informed the Freeport Memorial Library Association that he could not attend the cornerstone laying ceremony

1922 

Cornerstone was laid after a week of delay because of the rain

 

 

1924

May 13, 1924 (Memorial Day) – building dedicated and became the first war memorial library in New York State

 

 

1925

Name officially changed to Freeport Memorial Library, honoring the Freeport's war dead

 

 

1927

May 30, 1927 – dedication of a bronze plaque inscribed with the Gettysburg address from the Women’s Relief Corps

1927

Children’s Room and services initiated

   
1928 Memorial Tablet added to the main reading room. (View photo of Civil War Veterans attending the ceremony)

1928

Library began opening on Sundays from 2 to 6 p.m.

 

 

1932

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth, a Washington Elm was planted on the west lawn of the Library.  Donated by the Ruth Floyd Woodhull Chapter of the D.A.R., it was a direct descendant of a tree that stood in Cambridge, MA.  According to popular legend, it was under this tree that George Washington took command of the Continental Army.  This tree was later destroyed by disease

 

 

1938

After 30 years of service Alice Rogan retires

 

 

1939-45

Lena Ruppert served as librarian. Resigned in 1945 to work in US Overseas Information Center

1939

Junior High School room and services initiated

 1939

Homebound service offered 

   
1942 Phonograph records added to the collection
   

1943

Columbus Avenue School served as a branch library until the coming of the Bookmobile in 1952

 

 

1944

Collection of recordings was started

 

 

1945-59

Elizabeth Kelly appointed director

 

 

1948

Films added to the collection

   

1950

World War II memorial plaque dedicated

 

 

1951

16mm film collection for families and groups was started in 1959

 

 

1952

Bookmobile garage built north of the Library

1952

Bookmobile began neighborhood and school stops

 

 

1954

World War II Honor Roll removed from Library grounds when Merrick Road was expanded

 circa 1954

C. I. T. building constructed.  This building eventually became the west wing of the library 

 

 

1955

A proposition to float a $330,000 bond to expanded the Library building was defeated by the Village taxpayers (779 for; 1143 against)

1955

Freeport Community Council sponsors a tree planting service on the Library property to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the United Nations

 

 

1957

Ground was broken for the building addition. Architect: Charles A. Wood

 

 

1959

April 19, 1959 -   New addition dedicated

 

 

1960

Wilfred L. Morin appointed director

1960

The Library joined the Nassau Library System

1960

Memorial plaques added to the front of the building

   
1961 July 4, 1961 - Gold Star Window unveiled

 

 

1962

Framed picture collection added for circulation

1962 Gold Star Window lighted.
1962 October 1962, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Freeport's incorporation, the Exchange Club gave the Library the "Freedom Shrine"
   
1963 The library was selected to house a fallout shelter.  A total of 15 shelters were designated throughout the Village.  These shelters were to be to be used in the event of a nuclear attack.  The library’s shelter capacity: 116 people
   
1964 Borrowing time for books was raised from two weeks to 28 days (new books remained seven days)
   
   
1965 February 7, 1965 - Plaque honoring the Four Chaplains dedicated
   
1966 August 1966, the Village of Heiloo, the Netherlands, donated begonias to the library
   

1968

Helen Wilmont, librarian, retired from the Library after 20 years of service

1968 November 1968 - Vietnam monument dedicated

 

 

1969

Mrs. Cecil Bostick donated evergreens in memory of her husband to enhance the Vietnam Memorial

 

 

 1972

 Mezzanine added and skylights covered in the reading room of the original 1924 building.

 

 

1975

Friends of the Freeport Memorial Library established

 

 

1978

Bell sculpture on East building and carillon donated by Dr. Mervin L. Schloss Foundation in memory of his parents

1978 December - Jeanette Klempner elected first woman president of the library board

 

 

 1979

 Library Director Wilfred Morin was presented with the LDA Award for Excellence in Library Achievement by the Nassau County Library Association

 

 

1982

Wilfred Morin retired

1982

Gerald (Jerry) Nichols, who started his library career as a bookmobile driver, appointed library director

1982

Freeport residents voted to expand Library again

1982

Job Education and Information Center created

1982

Automated circulation system initiated

   
1983 Building owned by Adelphi University, purchased by the Freeport School District for Library expansion.  This building was originally the C. I. T. building
   
1984 Online card catalog system initiated
1984 Zippy the Chimp received a Freeport Memorial Library card

 

 

1985

May 19, 1985 - New Library addition dedicated on Memorial Day – FML becomes Nassau County ’s largest public library until Hewlett Woodmere Public Library expansion in 1996

1985

Tree planted in memory of Dr. William F. Gillespie, Library Board member 1968 to 1984

1985

Korea and Vietnam memorial plaque dedicated

 

 

1986

Jerry Nichols leaves to become library director at Half Hollow Hills Public Library. He later becomes director of Suffolk Cooperative Library System

1986

Dave Opatow appointed library director

 

 

1989

ALIS Corporation formed

 

 

1991

Paper card catalogs removed and replaced with OPACs

 

 

1996

Library provided free Internet service

 

 

1998

April 19, 1998 – Children’s Wing dedicated to Vincent S. Palladino, M.D., to mark his 25 years of services a member of the Library Board of Trustees

 

 

1999

Freeport Landmarks Preservation Committee placed historical marker on Library grounds

 

 

2000

Freeport population is 44,026

2000

American Legion dedicated a new War Memorial to the front of the Library building

2002

Community Services Department formed

2002

Tree planted in memory of Laura Marchese (Giglio) – former Library employee who died on 9/11

 

 

2003

Bookmobile services discontinued

2003

Bookmobile garage torn down to make room for additional parking

 

 

2004

WiFi introduced

2004

LILRC invites the library to join a Long Island history digitization program. Library and Freeport Historical Society partnered in the scanning process

2004

March 28, 2004 – Newsday featured Library in article “ Freeport ’s Reading Memorial” (page G22)

2004

Freeport Memorial Library’s collection included 217,385 books, 48 subscription databases, 7,000 video recordings, 19,409 audio recordings, and 434 periodical subscriptions. The Library provided 8,000 adult, YA, and Children’s programs. The annual number of visits was approximately 426,843

   
2006 February 5, 2006 - An article featuring FML’s popular Conversation Circles program, appeared in Newsday (“At the Libraries, The Accent is on Learning the Lingo” page G2)
   
2007 Freeport Memorial Library featured as a "Library of Distinction" in Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love: Treasured Libraries of the United States and Canada
2007 July - Librarian Anita Gordon retired after 35 years of service
   
2008 May 16, 2008 - The Salvation Army awarded the library a Special Recognition Award during its Annual Civic Dinner
2008 August 5, 2008 - Newsday published an article on Freeport's war dead who are honored on the Library's plaques and monuments: "They're No Longer Forgotten" Page 12A
   
2009 January 26, 2009 - Newsday published an article on the Freeport Library: "Booked Libraries: Recession Has More LIers Using Resources" Page A28
2009 April 25, 2009 - Young poets are honored in a contest organized by the Freeport memorial Library, county poet laureate committee, and Nassau's poet laureate, Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr. ("Well-versed LI Poets" Newsday. 26 April 2009:A8)
2009 Crepe Myrtle tree donated by Tancredi family
   

2010

March 13, 2010 – Newsday published an article about the Library’s Spanish language book club: “Accent on Spanish in Freeport, A Book Club’s Members Immerse themselves in the Language” Page B4

2010

July 24, 2010 - Newsday published an article about the Soul With Heart Book: “Shared Passion for Books: The Freeport Memorial Library Reading Group Lives Up to Its Name – Soul With Heart” Page B4

2010  Free downloadable e-books made available through the Library's web site

2010

 Dave Opatow retired as library director after 24 years
   
2011  Ken Bellafiore appointed library director
   
2012 April 2012 - West wing renovations began
   
 2013 Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC) opened 
 2013 Three Freeport Librarians (Margaux DelGuidice, Rose Luna, and Tanisha Mitchell) were featured in the March 15, 2013 issue of Library Journal.
   

 

 

Library Timeline Sources

Sources:


Bentel, Maria and Frederick Bentel. “Building the Community.Long Island Architecture. Ed. Joann P. Krieg. Long Island Studies, Hofstra University, 1991. 41-50.

Cessese, Sid. “Freeport’s Reading Memorial.” Newsday 28 Mar 2004, Combined ed.: G22.

DeLorme, John F. Photographic History of Early Freeport. Collected and annotated by John F. DeLorme, 1955.

Edwards, Guy. Study of a Public Library: Freeport Memorial Library. Graduate Paper, Long Island University, 1986.

Freeport Newsletter. Freeport, NY: Village of Freeport June, 1960.

-- "Automation Topic of Library Board." The Leader 5 August 1982: 4

-- "Break Ground for Library on Saturday." The Freeport News 22 April 1921: 1

-- “For a Free Library." Brooklyn Daily Eagle 11 Mar 1896: 5.

-- “For the Library.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2 Nov 1897: 12.

-- “For the Library Fund.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 5 Mar 1902: 8.

-- “Freeport’s New Library.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 4 Apr 1896: 19.

-- Freeport Library Association Correspondences (binders 1 and 2) [circa 1920].

-- “Freeport’s Library” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 25 Mar 1898: 4.

-- Freeport Memorial Library Dedication Brochure. 1924.

-- "Subscriptions to Library Fund Raised $10,000." The Freeport News 6 May 1921: 1

Groves, Marion Nash. The History of the Freeport Memorial Library, 1884-1938. Brookville, NY: Graduate Library School of Long Island Univ. 1968.

Markley, Anne Marie.  Survey of the Freeport Memorial Library, Columbia University School of Library Science: April 1951.

Metz, Clinton E. Freeport as It Was. Freeport, NY: Clinton Metz, 1976.