SOURCE: "LEGACY - Annals of Herkimer County" is published quarterly by the Herkimer County Historical Society, 400 North Main Street, Herkimer, N.Y. 13350.

Individual copies of LEGACY may be purchased by contacting the Society at the above address, or by visiting their website: On the site you can review a list of which copies of LEGACY are still available and their content under "gift shop" then "books".

We are grateful to the Herkimer County Historical Society, which holds the copyrights, for granting us permission to reproduce the following articles for our reader's enjoyment.


Ilion Free Public Library At 100 Years

By Jane Spellman

Part 2

The surrounding grounds have been graded and seeded, and sidewalks of Oxford bluestone are laid. A cellar extends under the entire building. The building is in charge of James M. Dygert, John A. Giblin, J. Holland Rudd, and Misses Caroline L. Richardson and Harriet E. Russell. There are about 7200 volumes in the library, of which 3000 are works of fiction. Miss Anna Perkins has been appointed librarian, with Miss May Leach as assistant. Both have studied at the New York State Library School. There are about 1000 books in the reference library.

The opening exercises were well attended. Prayer was offered by Rev. W. M. Cook, and addresses were made by Mr. Seamans, President Hakes, of the Ilion Academy, C. S. Ingham, president of the village, and Amos Parker Wilder, of the New York Morning Advertiser.

The beautiful new building, administered by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Village Board, was an instant success. Statistics reported by Miss Perkins, at the end of April 1894, showed 26,383 books circulated during the first 154 days the building was open. Of this, 12,378 were juvenile, 10,587 were fiction, 149 science, 237 art, 645 literature, 622 travel, 324 biography, 787 history, 198 religion, 149 useful arts. Miss Perkins noted 7,134 books in the collection at opening with 444 gifts and 77 purchases for a total 7,676 books in May of 1894. There were 1,418 library members.

The Reading Room, with the variety of magazines and daily newspapers (a bill showed the New York Sun, Times, Tribune, New York Herald, Albany Knickerbocker News, Syracuse Post Standard, Utica Daily Press, Utica Herald Dispatch and Utica Observer were all available), as well as the local papers Herkimer Citizen, County News Democrat, Ilion News, Journal & Courier and Mohawk Eagle, was well used. There is a 1899 application to New York State for $75 of Public Library money. This application rose to $100 in 1901.

Budgets were an important part of the Board discussion. Minutes of Board meetings throughout the years talk about cost of books, the need to discipline unruly children, and the number of hours the building could be open. In 1929 it is noted that the building was open for 78 hours a week in the winter and 72 hours in the summer.

The first major change in the building is mentioned in 1944 when Architect Myron Jordan redesigned the childrens’ room. The library closed for 2 weeks in August of 1948 so the “dingy, dark walls disappeared with new green paint.”

In a January 12, 1950 meeting there is discussion of a county-wide library system. Speakers met with the Board to discuss the idea, but it was in 1959 that Trustee Phyllis Anderson met with other library representatives and state officials to discuss a multi-library system. When the Mid-York Library System was established in 1960, Ilion was one of the 18 charter member libraries. Phyllis Anderson was one of the 10 charter trustees and she would serve as System President in 1964. The mission of this organization was “to strengthen and extend library service in Herkimer, Madison and Oneida Counties, primarily by assisting in the growth and development of the member libraries, through leadership, support and services to the libraries. Mid-York also provides direct services as appropriate, to otherwise unserved populations.” It was through Mid-York that computer technology was installed in member libraries. Ilion became computerized in 1984. Through meetings, newsletters, workshops, joint purchasing, and sharing collections, the Mid-York System with 42 member libraries in 1993 has expanded the collection of books, video tapes, records in the library to include access to region, state, and national library collections.

More Space Needed

The need for more space in the library was mentioned in so me 1958 minutes. When Elizabeth Thompson succeeded Bonnie Elliot as librarian in 1966, among her first duties was to investigate federal funds available for local libraries. On January 11, 1967, a decision by the Trustees to make application for a federal grant was made. In February, Consultant Harold A. Syren, a former Library Bureau executive, presented some suggestions and on April 17 he was asked to prepare a plan.

Cost at this time was estimated at $144,000. Library Trustees met with the Ilion Village Board in May to receive their approval to apply for the federal grant. Architect Helen Gillespie of Grainger and Gillespie, Syracuse, was hired June 29, 1967. New York State approval was needed and the first application was made in November and the final state application was made Feb. 1968. The project was rejected for 1968. In February 1969 the application was sent with a cost increase of $170,000. This project was approved in April 1969 and in May the federal money was accepted by Village and Library Boards.

Long hours were spent discussing use of the existing building and expansion possibilities. Meanwhile, negotiations on the Reile property west of the library on Second Street were underway. The closing on that property was on October 8, 1969. A ground breaking ceremony was held October 27, 1970 and eleven months later (September 1971), the new facility opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony. During the construction, a temporary library was set up in the basement of the Municipal Building from December to September 1971 taking the most popular books and reference material.


Presidents, Trustees, Directors/Librarians, Staff

Presidents of Ilion Free Public Library
Board of Trustees

1892-1928Harriet E. Russell
1929-1942Carrie L. Richardson
1943-1951John Guy Prindle
1951 -1954Ellen Pay
1954-1957Leo Murphy
1957Mildred Walker
1958-1968George Anderson
1969-1973Phyllis Anderson
1973-1977H.J. Syren
1977-1978Sharon Corriero
1979-1981Jeffrey Whittemore
1980-1982Art DeLaurier
1983-1984Jane Spellman
1984-1985Betty Applegate
1985-1986Margaret Brewer
1986-1987Betty Miller
1987-1988Rev. Leon Oaks-Lee
1988-1989John Kowalczik
1989-1990Mary Jean Fake
1990-1991Maureen Scialdo
1991-1992Juliann Skinner
1992-1993Carol Barnes
1993-Donna Papaleo
Trustees since 1892
Anderson, George
Anderson, Phyllis
Applegate, Betty
Baker, Mildred
Barnes, Carol
Blauvelt, Violetta
Brennan, John E.
Brewer, Margaret
Burton, Nathan L.
Bullis, Douglas
Chollar, Estelle
Corriero, Sharon
Conkling, James
DeLaurier, Arthur
Dexter, Ethel
Douglas, Frances E.
Favreau, Lesley
Pay, Ellen
Ford, Stan
Gibhin, John A.
Haines, Harriett
Harrison, Thomas
Kowalizik, John
Leroy, Ralph D.
Maurice, E.B.
Miller, Betty
Mitchell, Maurice
Moragne, James
Murphy, Leo
Oaks-Lee, Leon
Papaleo, Donna
Prindle, John Guy
Richardson, Carrie L.
Rowland, Fred
Russell, Harriet E.
Scialdo, Maureen Dolan
Seamans, Cornelia
Seamans, I. Clark
Shepherd, Thomas
Short, Joseph
Skinner, Juliann
Smith, Lindsay
Spellman, Jane
Syren, Harold
Tillinghast, Kenneth
Walker, Mildred
Waterbury, Lee
Whittemore, Jeffrey
1893-1913Anna Perkins
1916-1922Nellie Mae Cheney
1923-1933L. Marion Moshier
1930Bessie B. Wood (acting)
1933-1939M. Luella Wenner:
became Griswold
1940-1944Emily Bain: 1941
became Potter
1944-1945Margaret Wells
1945-1965Bonnie Elliott
1965-1966Jean Wolfe (acting)
1966-1984Elizabeth Thompson
1984-Christine Lozoski
Ahern, Gale
Anderson, Phyllis
Bain, Emily
Bruso, Margaret
Burger, William
Byrnes, Edward
Callahan, Carmen
Claffey, Marie
Clark, Dorothy
Connors, Karen
Culver, Dorothy
Dayton, Alice
Dayton, Georgette
Daz, Jane
Derby, Mary M.
Drennan, Ruth
Eddy, Sharon
Elliott, Bonnie
Fleming, Elaine
Garlock, Mary
Green, Susan J.
Griswold, Luela (Wenner)
Griswold, Luelaine
Harrer, Edythe H.
Hass, Mary
Hutchins, Helen deLancy
Hiorth, Ruth
Jones, Eiluned
Jennings, Thomasina
Lane, Christine
Leach, May Hester
Lowe, Alma
Lozoski, Christine
Madigan, Lena
Marks, Elizabeth M.
Monohan, Helen
Moyer, Joyce
Nencetti, Tina
Newkirk, Mary Lou Rix
Pelton, Ann
Pelton, Antoinette
Pettingill, Elizabeth
Potter, Emily Bain
Putch, Jean
Redway, Marion
Riente, Elizabeth
Robinson, Mary
Sanchez, Joyce
Sanders, Joyce Pierce
Scram, Marilyn
Shaut, Helda M.
Stalloch, Joan
Stan burg, Julie
Thompson, Elizabeth
Walton, Isabella
Wells, Margaret
Wheeler, Pearl
Brewer, Jack
Burger, William
Byrnes, Edward
Farr, Howard
Miller, Charles
Snedeker, James (“Ed”)
Yardley, Clinton E.


Special curved bookcases were designed by A. N. Russell to fit the curve at the west end of the library.

The west wall was removed to add the new wing.

New stacks and magazine racks in the 1971 wing.

Continue on to Part 3

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