Highland Public Library History

A humble beginning in 1915.

The Highland Public Library originated as an offshoot of the Women’s Suffrage Campaign in 1915. A reading room for women had started during the Suffrage Campaign and later formed the nucleus of the library. It was chartered in 1915 as an association library. The library had a variety of locations between 1915 and 1920. It occupied space wherever there was room at the time someone’s home, a store, extra room in an office etc.

In 1920 the Board of Trustees began looking for a more permanent site for the library after being told by their landlord that the building they were currently in may not be available for another year and if it was the rent would probably go up $5.00 per month.  The library board of trustees was also looking for larger space to meet the growing demands of the library. The Highland Free Library purchased the former office building of Dr. Caspar Ganse from the Estate of Georgianna Rose Ganse for $2400.00. This building was on the corner of Main and Church directly across from the Ganse residence.The library continued to grow and within a few years had outgrown its current space. In July of 1929 an offer was made by the Georgianna Rose Ganse Foundation to allow the library to use the former home of Dr. Caspar Ganse and his wife Mrs. Georgianna Rose Ganse rent free indefinitely if the library agreed to pay for all improvements needed to meet the requirements of the state. The renovated library opened in February 3, 1930. The library still owned the corner building and rented it to the American Legion from 1937 until 1944 when the Board of Trustees sold it for $2500.00.  In 1973 the members of the Ganse Foundation gave the Highland Free Library the building and property free and clear. The library remained in the building for over 85 years. 

The Highland Public Library has been through many changes while occupying the building.  In 1948 a chimney fire destroyed the attic and top floor which.  Many of the books suffered water and smoke damage.  Estimates at the time placed the value of damaged materials around $6,000. Temporary quarters were found above the Empire SuperMarket on Main Street until Feb 20, 1950 when the renovations were complete. At the time of the fire, the library occupied only the first floor. The second floor was home to The Ganse Health Center which served the Town of Lloyd until the early seventies.

The library needed to expand to meet the needs of a growing community. In 1974 the library underwent renovations to add a reading room, community room and additional usable space for library related activities.  The library also went from having one non-professional librarian to employing a full-time professional librarian and three part-time assistants. Throughout the seventies and eighties the town historian occupied a space on the second floor of the building.  However as the library grew the space was needed by the library and the historian was forced to find a home in the Town Hall. In 1983 the Highland Free Library approached the Clintondale Friends with the idea of a mini-branch in the restored 1811 Meetinghouse. It began with Carol Rankin, director at the time, bringing books out to the Meetinghouse one day a week.

In 1984 a story hour in Clintondale was added and a grant was awarded to expand the mini-branch into a full branch with its own permanent collection.  The Clintondale branch remains in the Meetinghouse and continues to grow and serve the population of Clintondale. In 1997 the Clintondale branch automated and began online circulation.
In 1986 the Highland Free library held a vote to become a school district library.  The proposition passed and Highland Public Library was established. Instead of serving only the population of the Town of Lloyd the library now served the entire Highland Central School District.

In 1988 the Highland Public Library became one of the first libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System to automate.  As technology changes the library continues to grow with the times offering computers for patrons to use for word processing Internet access or to access email The Highland Public Library subscribes to numerous databases accessible from home as well as in the library.

On March 17, 2015 the Board held a succesful bond vote for the purchase of property and construction of a new building. The 2.3 acres on 14 Elting Place was purchased from the Archdiocese of New York and St. Augustine Parsih.  Construction began in 2017 and on January 23, 2018 we proudly opened the doors of the new 10,250 sq ft state of the art library to the public.

The programs offered have continued to grow and in addition to four weekly story hours, the library now hosts a monthly book discussion groups for adults; bi-weekly crafts at night for children; performers every summer and many other programs and services.

As the community grows so does the library. The simple reading room of 1915 has grown to include videos, DVDs, books on CD, books on tape, music CDs, toys, audiovisual kits and many other materials to meet the demands of the population served.

Librarians 1918 to current

1918-1921 Grace Reed Ritchie

1921-1926 Adeline Terwilliger

1926-1928 Carrie Sears

1928-1934 Florence Palen

1934-1955 G.Hallock Mackey

1955-1980 Emily Lent

1980-1982 Joan Scott

1982-1995 Carol Rankin

1996-present Julie Kelsall-Dempsey

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