Patchogue-Medford Library History in Brief

Patchogue-Medford Library originated with the founding of Patchogue Library Association on June 12,1883, and the first Patchogue Library opened its doors in a shoe store, in August of that year.  The Library moved about the village, to and from various rented rooms, until 1900, when its Board agreed to its temporary takeover by Patchogue Sorosis (local chapter of a national  organization, that creatively promoted women's suffrage).  Sorosis revived and ran it as a demonstration public library, which proved quite popular. At a school district board meeting, in August 1900, a public vote was taken whether to create and fund a public library, which passed, and a 5-member Board of Trustees was elected.  The trustees applied for and received a New York State charter in December 1900, then successfully negotiated for a Carnegie Library (1903-08), dedicated in March 1908.  Alma Custead (director, 1914-1945) orgaanized and served as first president of the Suffolk County Library Association. The first countywide (union) catalog was created and located at the Library.  In 1961, Sufolk Cooperative Library System began providing services from the Carnegie Library's basement.  The Library extended its services to Medford residents in 1950, changing its name to Patchogue-Medford Library in 1973, by charter amendment, following the school district's lead.  In 1978 Patchogue-Medford Library became a State-designated Central Library for Suffolk County.  The Library moved to its present location in January 1981, while the Carnegie building housed part of Briarcliffe College, until the College moved to its present location (on the site of a former lace mill complex).   The abandoned Carnegie building was awarded to Patchogue-Medford Library, and was moved slowly and carefully to its present West Main Street location, in 2012, It will eventually house the Young Adult Department of Patchogue-Medford Library, and there are plans to feature changing exhibits of the Greater Patchogue Historical Society, in its historic basement. 


--  America's All-Star Libraries, 2010-  (American Library Association.  Library Journal)

              -- Patchogue-Medford Library is designated a U.S. All-Star Library

  • Lyons, Ray & Keith Curry Lance.  "LJ Index 2013:  All the Stars, State-by-State."  (Library Journal, November 1, 2013  Class of 2013) -- Patchogue-Medford Library shines again for its communities, Long Island, and New York State, as one of Amerca's Top Libraries -- click on the New York State on the map, scroll down to the NYS listings
  • Sorrentino, Michael.  "Pat-Med Library Receives American Star" (Patchogue Patch, November 12, 2013)
  • Lyons, Ray & Keith Curry Lance.  "LJ Index, 2012:  2012 Stars, State by State" (Managing Libraries.  LJ Index of Public Library Service.  Class of 2012) Library Journal, November 8, 2012 -- Patchogue-Medford Library is again listed among America's, New York State's, and Long Island's Top Libraries -- click on the map of NYS, or scroll down to the NYS listings
  • Lyons, Ray & Keith Curry Lance.  "All the Stars, State by State" (Managing Libraries.  LJ Index of Public Library Service.  Class of 2011Library Journal, November 1, 2011 -- click on the map of New York State, or scroll down to the NYS entries  

-- 2010-2011  [A National Medal, a Visit to the White House, & Paralibrarian of the Year]


          See also   PML's  Patchogue-Medford Area History web page

                          PML Centennial publications (througout this web page)

--  Historic Images -- General

  • Library History [set of historic and commemorative PML images]  (Patchogue-Medford Area Historic Images @ Flickr.com; prepared by Patchogue-Medford Library.  Celia M. Hastings Local History Room)

--  Historic Images - Buildings, 1883-Present    [that have housed the Library]

  • John Roe Smith Block (to right of Central Hotel) -- Housed the association library, 1883-84, 1884/85-1890/91, the demonstration public library, 1899-1900, and state-chartered public library 1900-1902 -- This building still stands, located on the south side of W. Main Street, recognizable from the tile flower patterns on the roof, best seen from the north side of the street.  We do not know the exact room[s] in which the library was housed at various times, just that they were housed in this building.  Note also the Patchogue and Suffolk County Bank, just to the right of the Library, which was formerly the Patchogue Bank (of Edward S. Peck, which failed in 1884; seriously complicating Library and village business that year).  Peck was nearly lynched & later unsuccessfully attempted suicide later that year, rescued in both cases by town fathers who were also Library Board members, as was Peck.  The former bank building also still stands.  
  • [George M.] Ackerly Block -- Housed the library association library 1891-96, and public library, 1902-08 -- located on [S.] Ocean Avenue, Patchogue.  Ackerly owned a music store and it known to have sold pianos.  Whether the store was open to customers while the library is open is an open question. 
  • The New Lyceum -- Housed the library association library, at street level, on the left side, 1896-1899 -- Located on Lake Street, Patchogue, where the Lake Apartments are today, the building had been the former location of the Congregational Church, converted into an 1890's showplace, replete with a theater seating 500, a gymnasium in the basement, a NYS Supreme Court Judge's Chambers, a Firehouse, and a surrounding promenade for moonlight strollers.  Like the Ackerly music shop, not exactly the quietest place to sit and read a book.  But, the price was right, and library funding had been a continuing problem.   (Note also:  The Old Lyceum, which started as a roller skating rink, was located on the east side of [South] Ocean Avenue.)
  • Closeup of Room that Held the Library, in the New Lyceum, 1896-99
  • The Carnegie Library - Housed Patchogue Library, and after the 1973 formal name change, Patchogue-Medford Library, 1908-1981.  Note:  This was the first building in Patchogue to be completely dedicated to a public library.  It took some stiff negotiations to get it, launched separately by both Patchogue village and the Library board, which also took some diplomatic sorting.  Located at 10 Lake Street, on land donated in 1904 by Edwin Bailey, Sr., it housed the Library that took the first active role in coalescing the Suffolk County, N.Y. library community in the 1920's and 1930's, into a Suffolk County Library Association (1939-Present), coordinated and created the first County-wide Library (Union) Catalog (1942).  Suffolk Cooperative Library System (1961), commenced operations from its basement, before moving to 15 Main St. (a former Nabisco factory), then to its present Bellport location; whose first Director, Walter Curley, in 1963, created the impetus for the countywide Public Library Director's Association (1968-Present).  Patchogue Library became the NYS-designated Co-Central Library for the County, then sole Central Library (1978-Present).   The building is one of 3 or 4 Carnegie Libraries to ever have been built in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, N.Y.  (i.e., Long Island, proper).   Its future, despite its historic significance, and as a rare local landmark was long in doubt.  But, it was awarded, by Patchogue Village, to Patchogue-Medford Library, and was moved from Lake Street to West Main Street in 2012.  When its renovation is completed, it will house the Young Adult Department, expanding the space and range of programs and activities.  In collaboration with the Greater Patchogue Historical Society, there are plans for exhibit space in its basement.   
  • Patchogue-Medford Library, 1981-Present, located at 54-60 East Main St., Patchogue. - This library has seen waves of electonic revolution, expansion and variations of services and resources, the library centennial, renovation and modernization of the facilities, and efforts to build and knit together a community when it reached a crisis point, winning national recognitions in 2011, 2012, and 2013, so far.

Historical Overviews [Digitized Articles and Brochures]

Patchogue Library Association - History, 1883-1900

--  Historic Images, 1883-1900  (PML Digital Photo Archive)

  • John Joseph Craven's Home - Where the organizational meeting of the Patchogue Library Association met, and elected officers, on June 12, 1883
  • John Joseph Craven [as he appeared in 1863], first President of the Patchogue Library Association
  • George D. Gerard, first vice-president of Patchogue Library Association, 1883
  • Floyd A. Overton - first acting librarian for the Patchogue Library Association (1883) - later CEO of Patchogue & Suffolk County Bank
  • Jesse C. Mills, who helped move the library into the New Lyceum, of which he was one of the chief sponsors; and later made the formal proposal that Sorosis take over the Library collection, for 1 year, and try to make it public 

Patchogue Library - History, 1900-1914


        See also  General section (above)

--  Historic Images of the Carnegie Library, 1908-1981  (PML Digital Photo Archive)

--  Historic Images of the Library, 1981-

Patchogue / Patchogue-Medford Library - History, 1914-Present

        See also   America's All-Star Libraries, 2010- 



      Notes:  Patchogue Library extended its services, by contract, to Medford residents in 1950; and in 1973, following

the school district's lead, changed its name to the The Patchogue-Medford Library, by state charter amendment, and medford residents became fully part of the library district.  Medford had briefly had a public library, 1927-ca 1930, on the initiative of the local Boy and Girl Scouts, that seems to have dashed on the rocks of the Great Depression.

  • Early Custead Era:  The World War I Years, mid-1914 to 1921, comp. and ed. by Mark Rothenberg  (Patchogue-Medford Library.  Celia M. Hastings Local History Room.  PML Centennial Collection. PML History in Summary Form, Part III) - scroll past the first two brochures, to the third; click to enlarge pages   
  • Alma Custead and Staff, Carnegie Library, late 1920's or early 1930's  -- Miss Custead, on left, who headed and guided Patchogue's Carnegie Library from the eve of WW I (July 1914), to just after the end of WW II (Dec. 1945), through the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, was the dynamo who helped coalesce the County's libraries into a cohesive library association, of which she became its first president.  She created the first  countywide catalog and brought it to her library; made sure her own collections responded to changing community needs, built an exceptional reference collection, expanded services, and created the impetus that would eventually lead to a county library system and the library becoming a state-designated central library for the county.  She also brought county and state-wide library training workshops, meetings, and conventions to the community.
  • The Meteoric Rise and Fall of the Medford Scout Library (1927-1930)
  • 1950 - Golden Anniversary Patchogue Library Float in 4th of July Parade [photo]  (Patchogue-Medford Library.  Celia M. Hastings Local History Room.  Centennial Collection) - Head librarian Muriel Wiggins,dressed as Mother Goose, stands precariously, among comfortably seated children, dressed as story book characters, on the Library's 4th of July Float, celebrating 50 years of service to its community 
  • Historical Article on Library, by Elaine Phipps, Director, 1971(Courtesy Long Island Advance; Patchogue-Medford Library. Centennial Collection)
  • 1976 Library History Brochure (Patchogue-Medford Library)