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About the Fishers Island Library


The Library's mission is to encourage a love of reading, storytelling and learning by providing free year-round access to its collection, programs and technology in a traditional, friendly, and charming setting for islanders of all ages.

History of the Library

Library patrons who scan shelves for best selling titles are in a building with its own stories to tell. Built in 1888 as the Island’s first school, the structure was expanded with a rear addition in 1904 and was converted to a library in 1914. The Fishers Island Library Association was established July 16, 1901 and received its charter from the University of the State of New York April 26, 1904.

The library’s first trustees in 1904 were Henry Ferguson, Josephine E. Ferguson, Amelia B. Willard, Mary M. St. John, Frank E. Hine, Ruth M. Linderman, Hettie B. McCook, Katharine Prime, Frank H. Dodd, Grace S. Wallace, Adelaide G. Freeborn, Marion B. Carroll, George H. Bartlett, Louise W. Bowers, Anne M. Howard.

The following nuggets of information were discovered through 70 years of library board meeting minutes.

  • July 26, 1938, decision made not to discriminate between island and summer residents in reserving and loaning books.
  • 1938, notation to dispose of grand piano in library.
  • Jan. 1-July 31, 1939, expenses: fuel oil, $180.00; electricity, $77.58; water, $14.00; P.O. Box, $1.20; grounds maintenance, $42.90; labor and material/arbor, $5.05.
  • Aug. 4, 1954, Charlie Ferguson donated painting to library. It currently hangs in the Martha Ferguson Reading Room.
  • 1963, decision to purchase bird bath, still on front lawn, in memory of librarian, Mrs. Alice Jones.
  • July 20, 1966, library board voted to change telephone line from party line to private line.
  • 1966, books removed from library circulation sent to Ecuador. Mrs. Ralph Hoch paid postage.
  • June 18, 1973, library had table at Union Chapel fair July 14 and made $27. Unsold books were sent to Norwich Hospital.
  • March 29, 1976, Board members were Martha Ferguson, Mrs. Serge Doyen, Ed Horning, Catherine Jenssen, Sally Ferguson, Peter Sturtevant, Mrs. Donald Sinclair, Mrs. Gordon Ahman, Walter Herrick.
  • Sept. 7, 1981, unnamed library patron threatened to stop supporting library if the book, Ninja, by Eric Van Lustbader, was not removed from shelves. Board refused to honor request, considering it censorship to remove a title based on the request of one person. Book remained on shelves but is no longer in library.
  • 1982, Board decided to sponsor summer lectures. 80 people attended first lecture by author Peter Matthiessen. 
  • 1982, The World According to Garp shown at movie theater raising $8140.00. Proceeds divided among six Island organizations that had all clamored to be first to sponsor screening: Fire Department, Island Health Project, Ferguson Museum, Library, Island People’s Project and Scholarship Fund.
  • 1982, two showings of The Atomic Cafe to benefit the library, arranged by Board member Mrs. Walter Rafferty. Her son Pierce Rafferty produced and directed the film.
  • 1996. Board decided to sponsor year-round lectures and programs
  • 1998, Back room renovated to Martha B. Ferguson Reading Room. Mrs. Ferguson was Board president from 1950-1976.
  • August 2002, 275 attend lecture presented by U. S. Rep. Porter Goss.
  • 2015: The Marcie L. Madden Memorial Garden opens.

Current Trustees

Ace Ahrens
EB Bartels
Anne Borland
Jonathan Britt
Jamie Dupont Collingham
Cindy Dwyer
Anita Fritze
Karen Goodwin
Susan Jeffries
Sheila Kennedy
Courtney MacDonald
Gordon Murphy
Kate Reid
Sarah Rose
Fran Roethgen
Win Rutherfurd
Allison Sargent
Willard Soper
Robin Toldo