The Dunkirk City Public Library was started in 1917 in the "South" or "Sutton" school. The Carnegie Foundation gave a small grant to purchase the first books. In March of 1946, the school board requested that the library move from the school building. In August the library moved to the City Hall building just across the railroad tracks on the east side of Main Street.
Because of extensive needed repairs, the library once again moved in March 1968 to the residential property at its present address of 127 West Washington Street. In October of 1987 the residence was torn down and the present building was built while the library was temporarily housed in the old Cook's Hardware store on Commerce Street. This was made possible in part by a small grant from the Portland Foundation. This grant was the result of a donation from Mrs. Emmaline Fish estate from Dunkirk. The library also wishes to acknowledge extensive time and effort put into the development of the new building by Mr. Howard Mcune of Dunkirk who was a longtime active board member and supporter of the library.
A very interesting development took place on October 12,1970 when the Dunkirk Lions Club offered to present the Glass Museum to the Dunkirk City Public Library. The museum began as an exhibit of privately owned glassware and was sponsored by the Lions Club. Once the Glass Museum Fund Corporation was formed funds were solicited from not only local interests, but also from suppliers to the local glass plants for construction of a building in which to house the museum.
On May 26, 1976 the Library sold the property on which the Glass Museum is located at 309 South Franklin adjacent to the library to the Glass Museum Fund Corporation for one dollar. When the construction was complete the Glass Museum Fund agreed to sell the property, with improvements back to the library free of indebtedness.
In June of 1979 the library accepted the assets and liabilities of the Glass Museum Fund, Inc. The museum property was not free of indebtedness nor was the building complete at the time of the acceptance by the Library Board. The Glass Museum was dedicated in 1981 with special recognition to Arthur Harshman in promoting the establishment of the museum and Kenneth Webster, who was the long time Curator at the museum until his passing in August of 1997. There are over 6,500 pieces of glassware from 110 factories around the world currently on exhibit in the museum while the annual visitors number in the thousands. The Glass Museum is operated by volunteers throughout the season of May 1 to October 31 of each year. The current Curator is Mary Newsome. The hours of operation are: Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00am-4:00pm, and Sunday or during off season by appointment only.
The building which housed the museum had a proposed utilization of the museum for part of the library in which the children's section would be under the north balcony and the librarian's desk would be located near the present west doors. Due to the insufficient insulation in the museum, it is not heated enough to allow being open during the winter months. Therefore by early 1985 it was clear that more space would be needed for the increasing collection and activities of the library.
The new library building construction project began October 27, 1987 with the demolishment of the residential building being used to house the library. The new building size would increase from 735 to 2,400 square feet of room with required handicap accessible bathroom facilities that would be built in a hallway connecting the new library building to the museum to allow access from either facility. The new library is governed by a seven-member unpaid board, pursuant to the 1947 state library law.
As of 1993 the library's holdings contained more than 13,000 books, 325 videotapes, and 70 magazine subscriptions. Programming at that time included a summer reading program and reading promotions during the school year. Serving a population of 2,739 in 1993, the circulation was 20,748. As of 2004 the holdings contained more than 17,300 books, 1,818 videotapes, and 81 magazine subscriptions. Currently we are serving a popluation of 2,646 with 2,381 registered cardholders. The library's circulation as of 2006 was 26,704.
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