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Library History

Scroll down the page to see some of the most important dates in our library's long history.

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1889 August 2 : Emma S. Clark, beloved niece of millionaire confectioner, philanthropist, and Setauket resident Thomas Hodgkins, dies.

1891 June 23 : The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library Association is incorporated with benefactor Thomas Hodgkins as President.

1892 October 3 : After eight and one-half months of construction the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is opened on the birthday of Emma S. Clark. The total cost of the grounds, building, fixtures, and 1,500 books : $12,000. Anna Morand is appointed the first librarian; resident Elizabeth Strong receives the first library card. Among the Library’s rules : cardholders must be at least twelve years old and pay an annual membership fee of ten cents. Sadly, Thomas Hodgkins is too ill to attend the opening ceremonies; he dies less than two months later.

1896 The Ladies’ Library and Reading Club is formed, the forerunner of today’s Book Discussion Group.

1913 The first electric lights are installed.

1915 Membership fees, which had risen to 25 cents a year, are eliminated and the Library is certified by the State of New York.

1921 The Library is awarded a prize by the New York Library Association for superior service.

1945 The Library is closed from August through October for renovations. Lighting and heating systems are improved and indoor plumbing is installed. The Library reopens on November 3. The book stacks, which had been previously off limits to members, are now open to the public.

In December, a small cottage on the Library grounds, which had been used as the librarian’s residence and, more recently, as a rental property, is destroyed by fire.

1956 The first services specifically for children, including story time, are inaugurated.

1958 The Library gets its first telephone.

1960 The basement is excavated and renovated between May and July to allow additional book shelving space.

1962 Air conditioning is installed.

1964 With the population of the Three Village area approaching 8,000 and the Library’s collection reaching 15,000 books, the decision is made to expand.

1966 A two-story addition, comprising the present new fiction area and downstairs community room, is completed and opens to the public.

1978 With the Library’s book collection surpassing 90,000 volumes and the local population nearing 46,000, Three Village voters approve a second expansion project.

1982 After a year and a half of construction the Library celebrates the completed expansion with a grand reopening on January 24. New space includes the former children’s room, adult reference area and book stacks, and mezzanine.

1983 The Library’s holdings and borrower records are entered into a computer database for the first time, allowing for quicker and more efficient circulation. An automated replacement for the card catalog will follow eight years later.

1992 October 3 : The Library commemorates its first 100 years with special ceremonies following a year-long schedule of celebrations and centennial programs.

1996 The 24-Hour Library : Members can now “dial in” from home to the Library’s on-line catalog to check holdings, place reserves, and renew borrowed material.

1997 Emma in Cyberspace : The Library launches its site on the World Wide Web.

2000 The library completes a new building expansion project. The expansion includes a new Children's Library, expanded Adult Services and increased parking.

2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 The library ranks as the number one library in Suffolk County according to the Hennen American Public Library Ratings Index.

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is Suffolk County’s oldest public library in terms of continuous community service from its original location. The Library’s collection of books, periodicals, audio, video, and software products totals over 200,000 items and serves a population of 45,668. Firmly rooted in a century-old tradition of meeting the public need, the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library continues to explore new means and technologies to serve the needs of the Three Village community today and tomorrow.

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library
120 Main Street
Setauket, New York 11733-2868
(631) 941-4080

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The Heart of the Three Village Community

NOTE: Pictures and videos taken at library events or activities may be posted online, printed in our newsletter or displayed in-house. If you do not want yourself and/or your minor child photographed, please notify the photographer covering the event.