MASSENA — The Massena Public Library will celebrate a significant birthday — its 125th anniversary — from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5.
Library Director Elaine A. Dunne said they’ll be celebrating with programs and activities for the entire community. Planning has been ongoing for the past two months.
“We definitely wanted to do something, but obviously we don’t have a giant budget here. So, we’re doing the best we can with what we have at the library. The Friends of the Library are helping us. That makes a big difference,” she said.
Halloween Storytime will be held at 10 a.m. Oct. 31, followed by Pre-K Storytime at 10 a.m. and Gerrifit strength training for seniors at 3:15 p.m. Nov. 1. Author Ellen Marie Wiseman will be on hand at 6 p.m. Nov. 2, and Nov. 3 activities include Toddler Time at 10 a.m., Relaxing Chair Yoga at 2 p.m. and Gerrifit at 3:15 p.m.
The library will host the movie, “Where the Crawdads Sing” at 1 p.m. Nov. 4, and the week rounds out on Nov. 5 with Lego Club at 10 a.m., proclamation and reception at 1 p.m., and a concert by the New Horizons Swing Band at 2 p.m.
Free coffee and a picture display of the library through the years will run during the week, and anyone who checks out a library item will be entered into a drawing for a handmade basket from local artist Ann French.
“We have a week of highlighting that we do something for everyone, and that’s kind of what we’re getting across,” Ms. Dunne said.
She said they’re assembling old photos of the library to frame and mount for display. There will also be a PowerPoint presentation of the library over the years that will run throughout the week.
“We have a fairly large screen. We’re going to set that up and a TV and we’ll have that going all week. There’s pictures divided by various things — employees, board, upgrades, Storytime through the years, all kinds of fun things,” she said.
She said that should be enjoyed by anyone who’s worked at the library, knows someone who worked at the library, or even attended past Storytime sessions over the years.
The Massena Library was chartered by the New York State Board of Regents as an association (private) library in 1897 and was located at several sites in downtown Massena including the Massena Town Hall. The Massena Town Council established a free public library, which was chartered as the Massena Public Library in 1935.
Decades later, Victor Warren left a bequest to build a memorial to his father, Henry Warren. In 1962, 60 years ago, the Henry H. Warren Memorial Library Building was dedicated and opened to the public.
“Since then, the library’s book collection has evolved and now includes DVDs, music CDs, talking books and downloadable e-books and audiobooks. We continue to provide the foundation of early literacy to children and technology classes to seniors. We’ve hosted art shows, musical performances and book clubs, provided a space for individuals and community groups to connect, and housed computers, internet access and research material for all,” Ms. Dunne said.
The arrival of technology brought some of the biggest changes to libraries, and Massena was no exception.
“Technology is definitely the biggest thing. Before my time, it was switching from the old card catalog system to the ILS, which is the shared online computer. That has benefited the library so much, the fact that we’re able to share our resources so quickly, not just for our library, but for all libraries,” she said.
Gone are the days when encyclopedias were the source of material for school assignments, or children were scanning through their version of the World Book Encyclopedia.
“We only gave up on that about 10 years ago. People don’t use encyclopedias any more. They’re online. Everything’s online,” Ms. Dunne said.
Because technology had not yet arrived, the library once employed 16 full- and part-time individuals.
“Not everyone was full-time, obviously, but there was so much work to do because there was no technology. Everything was done by hand. The books were ordered by telephone and everything was checked in by hand,” she said.
Card catalogs were the norm, using a typewriter to create the card and placing it in the appropriate section in the multi-drawer cabinet. New books were also manually added to the master list, a compilation of all books in the library.
These days, it’s not just books anymore. They’re still around, joined by E-books, DVD, CDs, computers, printers and Storytime sessions for kids. Most recently, they’ve added classes for seniors.
“That’s been our push for the last three or four years, before COVID actually. This is a niche that needs to be filled. This is a group that always supports the library and programming. We’ve always done a good job with our children’s programming, but I really feel that the retired community needed more and they wanted more, and that’s what we’re doing,” Ms. Dunne said.
In recognition of the library’s 125th anniversary, Town Supervisor Susan J. Bellor presented Ms. Dunne with a proclamation during last week’s Massena Town Board meeting.
“The library has provided a foundation of early literacy to children and technology classes. The library has hosted art shows, musical performances and book clubs. The Massena Public Library continues to meet the needs of individuals and community groups to strengthen the educational, entertainment and social life of the community,” Mrs. Bellor said, recognizing Nov. 5 as Massena Public Library Day.
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