|History of the East Rockaway Public
Prior to 1900 a small group of friendly women of East Rockaway had
been exchanging books among themselves. Members of this group
Mrs. Olive Denton, Mrs. Robert Davison, Miss Amelia Davision
and her sister Miss Irene, Miss Mary Baisley,
Miss Ella F. Carman and Mrs. A.E. Hewlett and her daughters, the Misses
Ida and Hattie Hewlett. After several years they decided to make
their books available to more people, and Mrs. Hewlett offered space in
the Post Office, which was located in the Hewlett Store on the corner
Ocean Avenue and Main Street. A table was put in one corner and
specified days and hours one or two of
these women were present to loan books from their small collection to
The people of the Village appreciated being able to borrow
and the idea of establishing a Library grew until on Saturday evening,
November 22, 1902, a group of men and women met at the home of Mrs.
to take steps in organizing an association to maintain a Library in the
Village. They decided to call it the East Rockaway Free Library,
and they applied for and were granted a Provisional Charter by the
of Regents of the University of the State of
The East Rockaway Free Library was first opened to
The first to serve on the Board of Trustees were Mr. C.L. Phipps, Pres., Mr. T.H. Beeson, Mr. O.T. Hewlett, Mrs. Robert Davison and Miss Irene C. Davison. Mr. Hewlett was elected Treasurer and continued in that office without interruption until 1939. Miss Amelia Davison was appointed Librarian, a position which she held until 1926.
In its beginnings the Library was supported by the annual association dues of $1.00 per member and by entertainments such as lawn fetes, boat rides, food sales, dances, euchres and voluntary contributions as well as state aid varying from $25 to $100 per year. Books were bought at Bargain and Hurt Book Sales and at Second Hand Book Stores, and from the start books have been generously donated by friends of the Library.
Gradually the Library grew. More books were added, a new
was built for them. Books were borrowed from the State Library
In 1907 late one warm summer afternoon Miss Baisley
came home from serving her turn as librarian to find a visitor, Mrs
Russell Sage of
That same year an absolute Charter was granted by the State and, at the request of Mrs. Sage, the name was changed to the Baisley Free Library.
The building was furnished to a large extent by voluntary contributions. Frederick Loeser & Co. donated a large American flag. President Theodore Roosevelt gave an excellent, autographed photograph of himself. Mr. Phipp had the title searched, Mr. Beeson had the grounds graded and landscaped, Mrs. Sage added book racks, many books and a privet hedge. Andirons, fender and grate were the gift of Mrs. Blottner, and others gave pictures, shelf labels and holders and ornaments.
Miss Amelia Davison as librarian still had her corps of public spirited women to help in the work. Among these volunteers were Mrs. Robert, Davison, Miss FlorenceCuttler, Mrs. O.M. Denton, Miss Mary Baisley, Miss Melba Mott, Miss Sarah Schiffmacher, Mrs. John Davison, Miss Evelyn Rhame, Mrs. Mary Smith, Mrs. Roman Dobler, Miss Caroline Rhame, Miss Dorothy Emerson, Miss Florence Simonson, Mrs. Florence Simonson, Mrs. Lena Phipps, Mrs. Mudge, Mrs. Leo Guichard, Mrs. David Roche, Mrs. Ruth Emerson Ryan and Mrs. Gray.
In August, 1926, Miss Davison resigned from active work in the Libraryitself, and as several of the women who assisted her also wanted to be relieved, the Trustees decided to obtain the services of a paid Librarian. Mrs. Leo Guichard was appointed and the building was opened to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from to in the afternoon and Tuesdays and Saturdays from to in the evening. Miss Davison still continued to buy the books, accession,catalog, label them and get them ready for the shelves. She and her former assistants also continued to mend and rebind worn books.
In 1926 the Village Board made its first appropriation toward the financial support of the Library and has continued this support each year. In 1927 the furnace refused to heat the building and Miss Irene Davison had a pipeless furnace put in. In 1929 the attic of the Library building was enclosed, partially shelved and equipped as a Children's Room. All the Children's books were put up there. A table and chairs were given by Miss Amelia Davision and, although the Trustees realized the conditions were not perfect, this gift did relieve to a considerable extent the overcrowded conditions in the Library.
In 1930 Mrs. Guichard
resigned as Librarian
and Mrs. Harriet B. Dobson was appointed in her place on May 15.In
1937 the Library received a gift of $2,000 as
a bequest in the will of the late Miss Amelia Davison.With
this money the Trustees bought the land adjoining the Library site.Mr.
and Mrs. Edward S. Rhame made a very
generous gift to the library in accepting that price for their land.In
1940 Miss Irene C. Davison offered to help the trustees build a new
by buying the present site and building, which she then gave to Bethany
Congregational Church and by a further gift of money.The
trustees gladly accepted Miss Davison�s generous offer and engaged Mr.
Paul F. Jagow, an Architect and a
of East Rockaway, to draw plans for a new building.The
trustees of the
The Trustees hired a full-time librarian in March 1942, and
building, approximately 2460 sq. feet in floor area, was dedicated
In January 1959, several Trustees attended a meeting in
Library where the Nassau Library System was discussed. They felt the
as presented was so different from the earlier plans that they voted in
favor of joining the
By 1970 it had experienced outstanding growth both in circulation and book stock. However, with book stock nearing 30,000 volumes, the increasingly cramped conditions forced the curtailment of services contributing to the fall in circulation from a high of 106,664 in 1963 to the 67,736 recorded in 1969. The Library Board, no longer was able to rely on the generosity of public spirited citizens like Miss Baisley, Mrs. Sage or of the Davison family sought public support for the construction of facilities that would permit the East Rockaway Public Library to continue to grow and thereby better serve the people of our Village.
In 1973 the old PIC building at