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History of Fishers Island Library

Library patrons who scan shelves for best selling titles are in a building with its own stories to tell. . .

Built in 1888, the one room schoolhouse served as the Island’s first school. The structure was expanded with a rear addition in 1904 and was later converted to a community 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.

History Notes

1914. The Island’s first school was converted into a community library.

July 16, 1901. The Fishers Island Library Association was established.

April 26, 1904. The Fishers Island Library Association received its charter from the University of the State of New York. The library’s first trustees 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.

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.

Fall 2015. The Fishers Island Library Association began an extensive renovation of the library’s front room. The goal of the project, “Preserve, Transform and Strengthen,” was to offer patrons a more functional, welcoming and contemporary space to read, work and relax.

July 14, 2017. Library Renovation Celebration Party.

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