Prior to the year 1900, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church provided library service to the Islip community. In 1898, an Association Library was formed by women of the Islip community. There was a $1 annual membership fee to belong to the Association as well as a rental fee of 5 cents a week for each borrowed book. Rent for the building in which the library was created was $12 a month with heat that was supplied by a potbellied stove. By 1904, there were 50 paid members and 12 school subscribers. Membership never exceeded 80 paid members in subsequent years and the collection did not expand much either, remaining at about 300 volumes.
Initially, the Association rented space in a store on Monell Avenue, but in 1910, it moved to a store on Main Street that afforded more space. In 1923, the Association applied to the State for a charter as a school district public library through the first library board, which consisted of Ethel K. Garrup, Eugene R. Smith, Winnafred M. Haff, Mabel B. Doxsee, and Milo B. Worden.
The State Education Department inspector reviewing the association’s charter application noted that the association formed before the turn of the century was “leading a precarious and rather useless existence” and that “increasing dissatisfaction with conditions has recently led to a vigorous campaign for a real public library….” The inspection made in November, 1923 by the State Education Department also noted the library was receiving $1,500 a year from the school district and that the books in the library’s possession consisted of “many old” titles and constituted “a rather hit or miss collection,” but that provision was being made for $500 of new purchases. The inspection also noted that there were “three or four able and earnest women” behind the library push who were “determined to make it a success and to have it operated along the most improved lines of library practice.” The final recommendation by the State was that a charter be granted.
A Provisional Charter was ultimately granted by New York State in January, 1924 to the entity known as Islip Public Library. Thenceforth, the new Library’s operating budget and trustees required approval of its budget and trustees through a vote by district taxpayers of School District #2. At its last meeting on December 26, 1923, the Islip Library Association transferred its existing book collection of about 2,200 volumes and other assorted properties to the new Islip Public Library.
The Library moved into the Islip High School (now the Islip Town Hall annex) and began service on August 1, 1924. Alma Wright, the high school librarian, served as the public library’s first librarian. In 1925, Clara R. Allen assumed the position of librarian and first formal public library director. Her service to the Islip Public Library would span the next 30 years.
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