The following is taken from "Ilion 1852-1952."
We thank the Mayor and other officials of Ilion for granting us permission to provide this information to our
Ilion Free Public Library
The history of the Ilion Free Public Library dates back to 1893 when its doors were opened by the gift of an Ilionite, Clarence W. Seamans.
Back in 1860 or thereabouts, a religious society of Ilion attempted to provide a public reading room but funds and interest were lacking and permanent success was not possible. In 1884 the school library was opened to the public, housed in a room in the Grimes and Pelton Block on the south side of First St. with over 4,000 volumes on its shelves. In 1891 the school library was destroyed by fire.
In the same year Mr. Seamans purchased the land for this library from Michael A. Giblin and the deed to the property was sent in trust to Miss Carrie Richardson, Miss Cornelia Seamans and J. H. Rudd, a committee of the alumni of the Ilion Academy.
For some years the alumni of the Ilion High School had worked very hard collecting money to establish a much needed Public Library, but it was slow work. Then, Clarence W. Seamans, himself an Ilion boy, educated in Ilion's school, made this generous gift to his home town. This took the form of a thirty-thousand dollar building, Romanesque in architecture, in which to house the library's books. The interest of the village was then stimulated and $5,000 was raised by the Alumni Association for books and legal provision was made by the village for the care and maintenance of the building. The library was opened on October 28, 1893.
The Alumni Association of the Ilion Academy deserves great credit since primarily the idea of having a public library came from that association and the first efforts in that direction were made by it.
The control of the library at that time rested with a committee of five: Miss Harriett Russell, Miss Carrie Richardson, John Giblin, James Conklin and James Dygert. The first librarian was Miss Anna Perkins whose yearly salary was $500.
Serving on the Library Board at present are: Mrs. Stuart Fay, Mrs. Harold Walker, Mr. Leo Murphy, Mr. Thomas Shepherd and Mr. Kenneth Tillinghast. Miss Bonnie Elliott is the librarian.
There are at present 22,565 volumes in the library, compared with 7200 in 1893, including a fine and up-to-date reference collection of current newspapers, and periodicals. The library also houses a valuable collection of old Ilion newspapers and books of historic value.
It is interesting to note the changes in the trends of reading during the library's existence. More and more people today are calling for books on atomic energy, television, jets, flower arrangement and religious books as well as the technical books. Through the years the library has progressed steadily, always aiming to serve all the people from the tiny tot who delights in the joy of a picture book to the adult who may be searching for an answer to his problem.
The following is taken from "Alumni IHS." The description
on a cover page reads,"This Alumni Book is published by the Senior Class of the Ilion High School, with the endorsement of
the Alumni Asociation, and under the direction of the Superintendent of Schools. Ilion, N. Y., June 1, 1904"
Ilion Public Library
MOVEMENT FOR PUBLIC LIBRARY:
THE OFFER FROM MR. SEAMANS:
RAISING THE FUNDS:
In due time a splendid library building, costing more than $30,000, was completed, with the books on the shelves ready for circulation, and on October 27, 1893, was opened with appropriate ceremonies. On this occasion, Mr. C. W. Seamans formally deeded the land and building to the alumni, and presented the keys to Mr. Seward Hakes, then president of the association, who in turn transferred the entire property to the Village of Ilion.
A TOKEN OF APPRECIATION:
ERECTED BY THE
Mr. Seamans was also elected an honorary member ofthe association.
SUPPORT, MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL:
Copyright © 2001 Paul McLaughlin/Judy Breedlove/Martha S. Magill