The first library was organized in Gloversville in 1803 and called the Farmer's Library. In 1853, the Young Ladies Library Association was established and the first books purchased in 1855. Gentlemen were allowed to become honorary members by paying 25 cents a year. This enabled them to attend the monthly socials and escort the young ladies home. In 1873, a new organization called the Young People's Library absorbed the older group. This organization exerted a great deal of influence in the community, but because no trained librarian was on hand, old books wore out or disappeared and few new ones were purchased.
The Levi Parsons Library, forerunner to the Gloversville Free Library, was founded in 1880 as a subscription through Judge Parsons' donation matched by local pledges. This library was incorporated under the laws of New York State on June 15, 1880, and a year's membership could be secured for $2. The original quarters, in the Wood Block on South Main Street were inadequate for library use and Lucius N. Littauer offered rooms in his block on South Main Street, rent free for one year. The Library moved to the block, and remained there until 1905. The board adopted a constitution and by-laws, and hired professional librarian, Adolph Peck. A printed catalog of books was issued, and the library was opened to the public during the afternoons and evenings.
FREE LIBRARY AND CARNEGIE SUPPORT
Because library membership was not free, most working class people couldn't afford it and membership began to decline. Finally, the threat of bankruptcy necessitated an appeal to the public, which was most successful. The Gloversville Free Library, still under the association structure, was established in 1888.
In 1902, Andrew Carnegie gave the library $50,000 for the construction of a building with the provision that the City of Gloversville should contribute annually to its support. The building, designed in the Beaux Arts style by architect Albert Randolph Ross, was opened in December of 1905.
The building has four levels and consists of a central body with two large wings. For nearly 100 years the City of Gloversville funded more than half of the Gloversville Free Library’s annual budget. But in 2002 the City began a drastic reduction of its annual support, and in 2004 appropriated just $5,000. The Board of Trustees was faced with the challenge of finding a reliable source of operating income in order to preserve public library services for the community.
TRANSITION TO A PUBLIC LIBRARY
The community passed a proposition to establish the Gloversville Public Library as a School District Public Library, to publicly elect Trustees, and to raise funds through an annual tax that would be paid by the property owners within the Gloversville Enlarged School District. Thus began a new phase in the history of Gloversville’s library.
After securing funds for the operating budget, the Library began a long journey to renovate the unique Carnegie building. The Library hired the firm of Butler Rowland Mays Architects in 2008 to design the renovation. Fundraising by the Friends of the Library began in 2007 and an official capital campaign was launched in 2013. While breakout projects were completed from 2009-2016 while the library still occupied the building, the comprehensive renovation required library services to be moved to a temporary location. Construction began in May 2017 and is expected to complete in early fall 2018.
Gloversville Public Library is a member of the New York Library Association, the Mohawk Valley Library System and the Capital District Library Council.
Gloversville Public Library is a member of the Capital District Library Council.