Village of Corfu Village of Corfu Government & Services

HISTORY OF THE CORFU FREE LIBRARY


Franklin Library
In February 1819 twenty residents of the Town of Alexander and Pembroke formed an organization to keep and maintain a public library. They met at the home of Eber North and called the association the Franklin Library, in honor of Benjamin Franklin. As a direct result of this the Corfu Ladies Library would be formed.

Corfu Ladies Library
On October 31, 1872 the Corfu Ladies Library was organized. It was operated in the house of Amelia Giddings on the southwest corner of Main and Allegheny. She served as the librarian. An admission fee of $1 was charged along with dues of 65 cents per year. An article in the January 31st, 1902 Batavia Daily stated that the library was moved to the home of Martha Schelt on January 28th.

The May 6th, 1911 Batavia Daily reported that the library had been moved from the Frank Sloat building to rooms upstairs over the Stevens' Corner Store (Stevens' Store was located where Sliker's Printing is now). No information has been located on when it was moved into the Sloat building. Later it was moved upstairs in a building where Al's Garage is now located. Sometime between this time and 1920 the library was dissolved.

Corfu Free Library
In 1920 the Corfu Study Club (originally called the Shakespeare Reading Club) organized the Corfu Free Library. By February they had rented a room on the upper floor of the D. R. Lawrence building (former home of the Pizza Pantry on West Main Street) for the library. They had also applied to the University of New York for a charter. On April 29th, 1920 they were granted a provisional charter as the Corfu Free Library Association. The library was opened to the public on June 5th, 1920. The first trustees were Mrs. Julia Flaherty, Clarence Curtis, Mrs. Mabel Bangert, Mrs. Clara Bartlett and Mrs. Almira Tyler.

In 1927 the library was moved to it's present location. This site was originally the office for the Corfu Gas Company. It was purchased by the Corfu Girl Scouts under the leadership of Nettie Falk and was used as Scout headquarters. On June 29th, 1927 the Scouts deeded it to the library for $1.

On February 15th or 16th, 1951 the library was granted an absolute charter by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York.

In 1959 the NIOGA Library System was set up serving Niagara, Orleans and Genesee Counties. The Corfu Free Library was one of the first libraries to join.

In 1963 it was decided that repairs to the building were urgently needed. On February 15th, 1964 everything was moved to the former Red & White store on West Main Street (now Yesterdays & Used To Bes) while repairs were made The remodeled building was reopened on March 21st, 1964.

In 1965 a fund raising drive was started for an addition to the library. The new wing on the north side was built and opened in 1967. An old village gaslight was also repaired and put outside the library. On July 12th, 1968 the new wing was officially dedicated at the opening ceremony of the Corfu Centennial. The building was also resided.

On May 16th, 1976 a 16' x 18' room was added to the rear of the library for a reference room and office. It was dedicated as the "Grace Thompson Room"; Mrs. Thompson was a long time librarian and supporter of the library. Mrs Thompson was guest of honor for the dedication.

In 1988 a ramp was constructed to allow easy access to the library by the physically impaired. The foundation of the north wing was also repaired. This wing had settled and was pulling the building away from the original structure. Fill was added on the end and back of the building to shore up the structure against further water damage. These repairs were completed in the spring of 1989.

In the early 1990's a grant was used to install a water heating system and new sink in the bathroom, finally providing the library with hot water.

In the spring of 1995 the library received money donated in the memory of Wilma Starkweather, a long time supporter of the library. This money was used to install a bay window in her memory at the front of the library. A new 25 year roof was also put on in 1995.

In March of 2005 a new front door was installed, a new enclosed handicapped ramp was built, and the foundation under the Grace Beach Room was repaired.

Former Librarians
Carrie Sumner, First Librarian - 1920
Grace Thompson, served as librarian for 35 years
James Murphy
Andrea Sullivan
Kelly March, served as librarian from 1998 - 2006