In 1949, Elizabeth Beiter and Barbara Alexik were designated among others as captains of an important journey. Armed with a love of reading and the desire to share, they solicited book donations, latched onto a few volunteers and set off to institute a library. The library was first located in a one-room cabin in the center of the village of Stillwater, donated by the Van Vranken family. After ten years, they purchased St. John’s Episcopal Church (originally built in 1874) for $500 and were provisionally named The Stillwater Free Library and Historical Society.
Elizabeth stayed on as our volunteer librarian for many years. Many townspeople served as volunteer clerks under her guidance. Open hours were pretty regular, although Elizabeth did walk down the street to her house for lunch each day. When Elizabeth returned after lunch, everyone knew it. How? When the library was ready for business, the light over the front door would be turned on… The same as today!
Since then, we have followed the trend of America’s libraries. Libraries are not only about reading for pleasure. They are also about distributing information, providing access to technology, serving as a meeting place, and offering the perfect environment for bettering ourselves. Thanks to these women, their tireless volunteers and the many directors, staff members and trustees since them, the Stillwater Library remains at the heart of our community; an essential guiding force for all of our futures.
In 2016, the residents of the Stillwater Central School District voted to create a taxing district for the Stillwater Public Library. With strong funding and public support, the path for the library’s future gets better and better!