In April, 1873 a few of the matrons of this lovely village gathered in one of their state homes to form the Gowanda Ladies Social Society. Anyone could join for 25 cents a year. Meetings would be on alternative Friday afternoons. They would quilt, knit stockings, and sew carpet rags (Those were strips of cotton materials sewed together and rolled into balls of various colors or mixed ready to hook into carpets). The object of the club was to manufacture and sell such articles and invest the proceeds thereof in such a manner as the society shall direct, by the majority of votes.
From reading notes of this Ladies Group, those of March 2nd 1877 read as follows: Met at the residence of Mrs. W.W. Stewart, a large number present, a goodbye feeling manifested and the social as well as business picture of the gathering was highly satisfactory. A resolution was passes that Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution be so amended to read: This society shall be called The Ladies Library Association. And so the Gowanda Free Library was born. The Certificate of Incorporation is in the present Library.
In 1947, through the efforts of Supervisor Waltor Cain and Library President, Doris Muir, the Gowanda Library became a contracting Library in the Erie County system. This contract means that we are privileged to use any facility of the main library in Buffalo and that the Erie County system pays the salaries of our six employees. And long as we can obtain the services of a qualified librarian locally we are able to select and purchase our own books. This is a distinct advantage since the waiting period and delivery of book purchased thru the main library is often as long as several months and at no lower prices. Also the Librarian knows the reading interests of the patrons. At the present time, the books are printed, prices are higher and discounts lower so that book shopping is a real challenge to our librarian.
An interesting fact has come to light since the installation of the paperback Rack here in this library. The Librarian reports that classics which have been on the shelves for years in hard covers and not circulated, are checking out frequently in paperback. Circulation as a whole in this library continues to increase every year despite drops in facilities all over the country.
After such a meager beginning, financially, the library has come a long way, but so have prices and expenses. Out side of the salaries paid by the Erie County Library System, the largest item is books and periodicals and today, utilities. The expenses are met by annual allotment from the village of Gowanda, dividends and interest on investments of gift memorial money and memberships. Outlying areas and the school also make token gifts to cover readers from the village and Erie County.
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