of the early history of the Cooperstown Library are very sketchy. The
first library opened March 11, 1796 under the auspices of Captain
Timothy Barnes. Not much more information is available other than the library closed soon thereafter.
1820, The Freeman’s Journal ran a classified advertisement for
the Washington Library Company, and in 1825, the Journal announced a
meeting of the Franklin Society Library of Cooperstown. No
further mention of any of these organizations appears, but late
in June of 1828, James Cameron advertised a circulating library
complete with a list of books he had available. Unfortunately, less
than a year later he advertised a forthcoming auction of books and
library service in Cooperstown was not a high priority item then
or for some years to come. A library opened in 1867 by the Young Men’s
Association of Cooperstown languished and died after a few years
despite offering magazines and newspapers as well as books.
1898, the present building that houses the library, village offices and
art gallery was formally opened. It was built by the Clark Family to be
used as a YMCA, library and museum. Ellen Wilson was appointed
librarian and served until 1917. Thus, the beginning of the current
library is really 1898; it has continued to operate under different
sponsorships since then.
Sterling Clark donated the building to the Village of Cooperstown in
November 1932. The next year the Women’s Club of Cooperstown appointed
a standing committee to support the library and in 1939, assumed
total responsibility for its operation.
years later, the Village took over operation of the library. The
Village Board appointed a Library Board of Trustees in January 1949 and
the University of the State of New York granted the Village a charter
on March 1 of the same year. On that date the Village Library of
Cooperstown commenced operation as a public library free to residents
of Cooperstown and students of the Cooperstown Central School.
the Village Library joined the Four County Library System in 1964, its
holdings and services became available with charge, to the residents of
Broome, Chenango, and Delaware counties as well as the rest of Otsego
County. The advantage of joining the Four County Library System was
that it allowed for coordinated cataloging and book ordering, and
interlibrary loan services.
contrast to its inauspicious start, the Cooperstown Library has
survived and flourished for over 100 years are its present
location. It was initially housed in one room in the Library Building,
but in 1978, expanded across the hall to include the Children’s
Room, director’s office, Nancy Carpenter Dunn Room, and Richard Carr
Reading Area. The Friends of the Village Library, a support
organization formed in 1972, supplied much of the financing for the
the Library houses about 22,000 volumes that include over 1,300 sound
recordings, 1,000 large print books. It also offers Internet searching,
wireless access and a dedicate terminal to its online catalog.
The purpose of the library is well stated in the words of former librarian Nancy Dunn:
enable every citizen of any age to learn more about himself and his
world, to read widely and deeply of the best the past has produced and
freshest and best of today’s writing and thinking, as well as to
provide him with rest and relaxations in a busy and tense world
By David Kent