History of Public Library Service in Horseheads, NY Part 2—the Nomadic Years

Horseheads Library’s first home on the second floor of the Brown’s pharmacy in Hanover Square. 1944-1949
Horseheads Library’s first home on the second floor of the Brown’s pharmacy in Hanover Square. 1944-1949

The Postwar years brought a population boom to Horseheads, NY and 4 different addresses for the Horseheads Library in 18 years. According to the 1940 United States Federal Census, the Town of Horseheads had a population of 8,804. By 1960, the population nearly doubled to 17,808. The support for the Horseheads Library grew as fast as the population.

By 1949 the library’s collection grew to over 1,000 books. The Second floor of Brown’s Pharmacy was too small. The community raised $4,000 to renovate the village fire house annex’s second floor which was on the site of the present day Village Hall. The Village of Horseheads generously paid for the utilities. The Horseheads Women’s Club held bazaars, auctions, luncheons, dinners, breakfasts, and even a thrift shop to raise funds to purchase materials and supplies. Once the library moved to its second location, children’s books were added to the growing library’s collection.

Horseheads Library’s second home:  John Street Fire Hall’s second floor 1949-1961
Horseheads Library’s second home: John Street Fire Hall’s second floor 1949-1961

In 1958 the library was officially chartered by New York State as the Horseheads Free Library Association. The newly chartered Horseheads Free Library became affiliated with Steele Memorial Library. This affiliation permitted the use of Chemung County funds to purchase library materials, hire a professional librarian, and a professional clerk.

As the 1960s began the village fire house annex was deemed uninhabitable as the weight of the library’s collection caused structural damage to the floor. The second floor of the Marine Midland bank in Hanover Square was used as the temporary third location while the current village hall was constructed. Thirty members of the Horseheads Junior Chamber of Commerce spent 6 hours on a Saturday in November 1961 moving the entire collection to the second floor of the Marine Midland Bank. The collection was moved again in 1962 by the Horseheads Junior Chamber of Commerce to the library’s fourth location—the current Horseheads Village Hall. The library collection was housed in the wing that is now used for offices.

Horseheads Library’s third home Home-Marine Midland Bank 1961-62 | Library’s 4th home Village Hall 1962-1967
Horseheads Library’s third home Home-Marine Midland Bank 1961-62 (top) Library’s 4th home Village Hall 1962-1967 (bottom)

Throughout these nomadic years, the Horseheads Free Library Board of Trustees, Horseheads Women’s Club (led by Ruth B. Leet and Alzada Boggs), and other local organizations worked with an admirable community spirit to find a permanent location for the Horseheads Free Library.

To be continued…

Owen Frank
CCLD-Horseheads Free Library

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