History of the Beekman Library
Beekman's first library was
the Beekman Reading Center opened in 1965 in a one-room schoolhouse in Green Haven. Manned completely by volunteers, the Reading
Center struggled along providing services at a minimal budget. Founded by Ellen Rahilly, Laura Rough, Elizabeth
Rough, with the aid of Supervisor David Schoentag, this small enterprise began. Mary Pray Hoag, a former teacher, was the
first librarian. With the help of community members and donors, the schoolhouse was renovated and furnished with donated items
and books. The 60’s and 70’s saw the library services slowly expanding. Programs for children
were small, due to space limitations, but the children who attended enjoyed stories, crafts and games. Funding
was minimal so there were a number of fundraising events such as art shows, auctions and antique sales. The
highlight of the holidays, which continues to today, is the annual Holiday Cookie Sale.
As the town grew, so did the need for more improved and professional library services.
An IBM grant provided the first computer in 1985 and Library Director Lee Eaton started on the road to technology.
By 1987, the Reading Center qualified for full library status when the
director started receiving a small salary and was able to hire Donna Britton as a part-time clerk. A provisional charter was
granted by the State Education Department and Beekman Library came into existence. The library is governed by a Board of Trustees
consisting of citizens of the area from all backgrounds.
very long, the need for larger quarters became obvious and when the schoolhouse was condemned, the library was moved to its
first storefront rental. The location next to Cumberland Farms on Route 55 was a good one since it brought the library to
a more centralized area of the town. It remained in that location until 1993, when space limitations once again forced a move
to a larger storefront at the Clove Valley Plaza on Route 55 and Dorn Road. Slowly, as funding increased,
paid staff was added to the volunteer contingent.
Each move offered
better services and more convenience to the patrons of the library. As the library moved toward the millennium, once again,
the need for space became evident. In order to keep up with advances in the library profession, it became necessary to prepare
the library for automation. More computers and Internet capabilities became standard for New York libraries. Beekman Library
was the first Dutchess County library to offer Internet and continually strives to offer progressive library services to the
Funding of the library was a big problem for many years. The Town of Beekman provided a good part
of the library budget along with annual fundraising in the community. But this was not enough to even consider
constructing a new building. As early as 1995, plans for a new building were being formulated.
Years of political hassling occurred before the town agreed to lease the parcel on Clove Valley Road. In
the meantime, in order to assure funding for its budget, the library submitted a referendum known as 414 for an increase in
the monies provided by the town. The vote was successful and in 2000 the library received the additional
In March of 2002, the library was granted its absolute charter from New York State and in
2004 another referendum passed giving the library the funding necessary to maintain a new building.
The dream had always been to house the library in its own building. Thanks
to funding obtained through Senator Vincent Leibell III and members of the community, the library is finally in its very own
building, leasing land on a 99-year lease from the Town of Beekman. The doors on the new facility opened
at the end of August 2005. We are now proud that the citizens of our community are able to visit a new,
expanded, beautiful state of the art library with a community room, a children’s room a computer area and a teen center
along with enlarged areas for books, audio books, videos and DVD’s. It has taken forty years, but
the dream has finally become a reality. Situated only 1/8th of a mile from the busiest intersection
in town, our lovely building is everything we had hoped for.
We started out forty years ago with a small group of
volunteers who worked hard to start the dream. We are now very fortunate to have a wonderful staff of ten
people who continue to work hard to attain the dream. The library staff gave many hours of volunteer time
to prepare this wonderful library. We hope that in years ahead, our successors will remember the long journey
we took and will continue following the dream
Lee Eaton, Past Director