In 2017, the Eastchester Public Library will celebrate its 50th year at 11 Oakridge Place. Many of you may not know that the library’s collection was housed in several different locations prior to the opening of our building in 1967.
The idea for a community library began in 1946. Under the guidance of the Central Eastchester Recreation Council, book donations were solicited and collected by the Girl Scouts. In March of 1947, thanks to the funds raised by a benefit concert, the library was established in its first home at Harmony House. Shortly thereafter, the library was invited by the Recreation Department to share a room of its quarters in Eastchester Town Hall, then opposite Lord and Taylor’s. Three years later, the library moved once again, this time into the current Town Hall on Mill Road.
In the 10 year span from 1947 to 1957, a lot of important things happened! In 1953, the Town Board voted to establish a tax-supported Eastchester Public Library. The following year, a provisional Charter was granted. By this time, the library had expanded to two rooms in Town Hall! In 1959, the Provisional Charter became Absolute and the library became a charter member of the Westchester Library System.
By 1961, the Eastchester Public Library had 7,258 cardholders and 23,695 items available for the public to take out free of charge. The popularity of the library made the need for expansion a prominent topic among Library Officials, the Town Board and interested citizens. A number of sites were discussed but it was not until 1965 that Eastchester citizens had the opportunity to hear of plans for a centrally-located library to be erected on Oakridge Place.
The Eastchester Public Library was officially dedicated on May 21, 1967. In his opening remarks, Town Supervisor Francis O’Rourke listed among the library’s many attributes, “a Reference Department with study facilities, material in pamphlet form, Adult Lounge Area, and an enlarged Phonograph Recording Section.”
Much has changed since 1967. The Phonograph Recording Section has been replaced by CDs and downloadable music files. Can you believe that when the library opened in 1967, there was not one computer in the building! Today, the library’s collection contains over 170,000 items. In addition to books, magazines, audiobooks, DVDs, Blu-rays. The library also offers free wi-fi and access to an e-collection that includes e-books, e-audiobooks and music files which can be downloaded from home. One thing hasn’t changed however, the library remains a vibrant and integral part of the community of Eastchester. Over 50 years ago, the Library Board of Trustees, the Friends of the Library, the League of Women Voters, Town Officials and Town Citizens rallied together to provide an “educational, cultural and recreational resource of unlimited return.” We owe those individuals a debt of gratitude that can never be adequately repaid.