Yesterday marked the end of National Library Week. This celebratory week provides an opportunity to recognize how important and vital libraries are to a community. Yet, how many people truly celebrated this week, or even knew that it was National Library Week? While libraries are easy to overlook in modern times with new technology and instant information, they continue to provide critical resources, programs, and expertise related to learning and remain at the core of today’s educational system. Such is the case with the Falconer Public Library, which has served the community for over 90 years.
The Falconer Public Library was established in 1913 by the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. In its early existence, the strong support of the Library was demonstrated through a circulation of 30,000 books during the years of the Great Depression, while many other organizations struggled to survive. After steady growth and ongoing community support, the Library received a permanent charter from New York State in 1951. Then, in 1960, it became part of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library system, a cooperative partnership among all area libraries. After Carolyn Schwab, who had been librarian for 13 years, retired in 1975, Sue Seamans was provided the opportunity to carry the tradition and growth of the Library into the next generation.
Ms. Seamans was acutely aware that the success of the Library was going to be based upon continued local support and innovation. While traditions were honored, many new programs and technologies were instituted, and the Library grew beyond its means. After conversations with John D. Hamilton, the Library received a grant from the Gebbie Foundation in 1981 to build a 1,260 square foot addition to the facility. This grant was, in large part, due to John D. Hamilton’s belief that small libraries can make difference in local communities but also because of Ms. Seamans’ vision of the Library’s future.
Keeping the future of the Library in mind, Ms. Seamans and the Falconer Library Board members came to the Community Foundation in 1988, looking for help with long-term sustainability. What came of that meeting was the establishment of the Falconer Public Library Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation. This fund provides ongoing financial support for the library on an annual basis. Ms. Seasmans stated, “In questionable times of library security, we want to make sure our future is secured. The endowment fund guarantees Falconer Library’s future. As the fund grows, so does the ability to support the Library.”
Today, the Library continues to grow and have success, and people outside of the area have taken notice. In 2005, the Falconer Public Library was named one of the top 100 public libraries in the nation, alongside the James Prendergast Library, based on Thomas J. Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings (www.haplr-index.com). Additionally, Ms. Seamans was one of 27 winners of the 2004 New York TimesLibrarian Award. The award is given to librarians who have exhibited outstanding public service to their community and trade. With Ms. Seamans’ work, a good staff, devoted patrons, and donations, the Library has been able to sustain its service to the community. Ms. Seamans concluded, “Our Library Board, Village Board, and community are the keys to this institution. They have all instilled a commitment to integrity, personal caring, and educational enhancement. The CRCF Falconer Library Fund ensures the future to this commitment.”
If you wish to learn more about the Falconer Public Library contact Sue Seamans at 665-3504. If you wish to donate to the Falconer Public Library Endowment Fund, contact the Community Foundation at 661-3390.
Published in the April 9th edition of The Post-Journal