The library movement began very early in Potsdam. The Washington Benevolent Society, incorporated on June 14, 1814, was the first library association and was followed by the Union Library Association, incorporated on January 8, 1828. The Potsdam Reading Center and Library Association opened on April 3, 1887 and was located in the two stories of the Albion Hotel Block on Market Street which has since been torn down.
The first official Potsdam Public Library and Reading Room Association was incorporated on March 10, 1896. The Regents of the State of New York granted the library its charter nine days later. The charter, now on display at the library, was signed by Melvil Dewey (the founder of the library pervasive ‘Dewey Decimal System’).
The library moved to the Fennimore House on the corner of Market and Depot Streets and occupied the lower floor. In 1933, Potsdam’s First Universalist Church closed its doors and gave its building, which is the present museum, to be used for the library. The church also gave the land between the church and town hall to be part of the new Civic Center. The village government built the Civic Center, and at the same time, turned the church into the library.
In the 1970s, the Village board conducted a needs survey to accommodate and study the expanding, vital and “bursting” library and a master plan was developed. The decision was made to move the library to the Civic Auditorium. The auditorium historically housed the “gun house” where armaments were stored, and served as the Town Hall and Opera House. Renovations began June, 1975 and a ribbon cutting ceremony took place on December 20, 1976.
In 1993, the Library started its automated circulation system and the on-line patron catalog was operating a year later. Public access computers for general purpose and internet use were also made available. In 1996 the Library celebrated its Centennial arranged by the Board of Trustees and a committee of 15 from the community.
In 1999, Director Kathy Cassell retired after 29 years of service and was succeeded by Assistant-Director Patricia Musante. That year the Employment Information and Micro Enterprise Resource Center was opened next to the Local History Room. Director Musante passed away in 2016 and was succeeded by Annie Chase.
The Potsdam Public Library is committed to serving the North Country as the premier media resource center with the best in resources and services. Come on in and see what we have to offer you.