523 Central Avenue
Central Ave. Bldg. Anniversary
The celebration of the tenth anniversary this week
of the Massapequa Public Library's Central Avenue
Building presents an opportunity for community
residents to review the high points of their library's
growth and service through the years.
What is today a thriving library system consisting
of two complete buildings and a community-wide
book trailer service, that boasts a total circulation
of over 500,000 volumes per year and 27,000
registered borrowers, began in 1952 in a very
modest, rented store at Broadway and Pennsylvania
Avenue that measured only 14 feet wide by
60 feet deep.
The fledgling library's initial supply of books was
produced amidst the vigor and excitement of a
community-wide "scavenger hunt" by teams of
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cubs and Brownies who
canvassed the attics, basements and bookshelves of
practically every home in the district. Community
cooperation was astounding, and, according to a
contemporary newspaper article, the library was
literally "snowed under by an avalanche of books."
The "avalanche" yielded about 2,000 usable
volumes which formed the nucleus of the collection
and the remainder occasioned a huge, used book
sale which netted the library $141.90.
The book drive had a galvanizing effect on the
community and was the major factor in arousing
interest and focusing attention upon the new
library. For many years youngsters would proudly
point out books on the shelves that they had
brought in and adults could often find books that
they had given. Most of those first books are still
in the collection, but are getting harder to find
today as the total volume count is now approaching
the 120,000 mark.
No report of the Massapequa Public Library's
early years would be complete without mentioning
the names of those who played a major part in its
One of the earliest VOKes raised in support of
a public library was that of the late Alfred G. Berner,
then President of the Massapequa Board of Educa-tion,
who spoke of the need at a meeting of the
PTA Executive Board in the winter of 1952. The
library idea immediately received the enthusiastic
help of such community leaders as Mrs~ Malcolm
MacLachlan, Mrs. J. H. Arnold, Mrs. Joseph
Cantwell, and Mr. Tracy Logan who began to
arouse public interest through a series of talks
before various civic and service clubs in the
By spring, interest was high enough for the
Board of Education to appoint a Citizen's Com-mittee
to investigate the problems of forming a
library and to draw up definite plans.
The Committee first met on the evening of
March 24, 1952, in Room 12 of the Massapequa
Avenue School (now Fairfield) and was composed
of the following people: Mrs. Malcolm MacLachlan,
Chairman; Mrs. J. H. Arnold, who represented the
Board of Education; Mrs. Joseph Cantwell and Mr.
Tracy Logan, as well as Mrs. Hector Donderi; Mr.
John Escott; Mr. Martin Kane; Mr. James N.
MacLean; Mr. John P. McKenna; Mrs. George
Marschall; Mrs. Martin Netzorg; Mr. Arthur Rohr;
Mrs. Warren Smith and Mrs. David Tullen.
A busy two-month period followed in which the
Committee carefully unravelled the many com-
plexities of forming a public library. Their efforts
culminated at the School District Budget meeting
held in May at the Parkside School where they
distributed a brochure outlining the Committee's
recommendations and detailing specific information
about the cost of establishing and maintaining
That evening the citizen-taxpayers assessed them-selves
$lO,OOO and the Massapequa Public Library
came to life.
A few weeks later the first Library Board of
Trustees was elected. This Board consisted of
The Reverend John Malcolm Haight, Chairman;
Mrs. Hector Donderi; Mrs. Jack Melkin; Mrs.
Malcolm MacLachlan; and Mr. George L. Goss.
To these five went the difficult task of finding
suitable quarters and exciting the public interest in
the new project. Both of these problems were
quickly and neatly solved with the renting of the
Broadway store and with the highly successful
The editorial that appeared in the Massapequa
Post at the time of the library's opening is well
worth quoting now for its reflection of warm
welcome and good wishes that pervaded the
"Our library has had a most humble
beginning. Housed in a small rented
store, every effort has been made to
make it comfortable and accessible. In
the days to come we forecast an im-posing
edifice, conducive to research
and study, with all the facilities of the
best-equipped of municipal libraries."
The prediction was well founded, for, within a
few short years, growth was so spontaneous that
the tiny building could no longer hold the books
it owned or the people it served.
The place for Massapequa's new library building
was never in doubt. Through the great generosity
of Mrs. Warren Smith, one of the original Citizen's
Committee members and long a supporter of library
service, community residents had already been given
land at the corner of Central Avenue and New York
Avenue for their library.
Mrs. Smith's gift, and the architectural talents of
Mr. George Dippell combined to produce the
present Massapequa Public Library at 523 Central
Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Septem-ber
25, 1955, and long before the new building
was completed, it became obvious 'that a beautiful
and exciting structure was in the making. The
building had features which were then radically new
, in library design. It was spot-lighted in a special
article in the Library Journal for September, 1955.
Mr. Dippell and Miss Virginia Moran, who had been
appointed Library Director the year before and had
a major hand in the new building's interior planning,
were invited to describe the appointments and
display plans at the 1956 American Library Asso-ciation
In one constructive year the building was
Young David Phelps, a sophomore at Massa-pequa
High School, provided the quotation from
Francis Bacon, "Reading Maketh a Full Man" which
was inscribed on the lobby display wall to catch the
eye of all visitors to the library who have entered
since that first opening day September 12, 1956.
In the ten years that have passed since its opening,
the Central Avenue Library has been the center of
many innovations and expansions in library service.
A "Great Books" discussion group was formed to
augment the school's Adult Education Program.
Massapequa Public Library
PHILIP E. ROBINSON, Chairman
EDWARD L. JOHNSON MRS. HARRIETHARRIS
Vice Chairman Secretary
HOWARD I. EMERY
MASSAPEQU~ NEW YORK
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
MRS. CONSTANCE CANTWEll, Acting Director
MRS. CATHERINEREillY, Acting Assistant Director
MR. GEORGE L. (30SS, Executive Secretary
CENTRAL AVENUE BUILDING
523 Central Avenue
Massapequa, N. Y.
BAR HARBOUR BUILDING
40 Harbor lane
Massapequa Park, N. Y.
(see locations below)
Total Books 120,000
Annual CircuJation 555,000
Registered Borrowers 27,000
10 am ...:..9 pm Mon., Tues., Thurs., Fri.
1 pm - 9 pm Wednesday
lOam ~ 5 pm Saturday
11 am - 12:30 pm Claussen's Mem. Plaza, Park Blvd.
1 pm - 4:30 pm & lake Shore, Massapequa Park
10:30 am - 12:30 pm
1 pm - 5 pm
10:30 am - 5 pm Massachusetts Ave. north of
East lake School, Massapequa Park
Sunset and Nassau Roads,
11 am - 12:30 pm
1 pm - 4:30 pm
11 am -12:30 pm
1 pm - 4:30 pm
Forest Avenue at Jetmore Place,
Cypress Street between Charles
and Pacific, Massapequa Park
Inter.library loan privileges available through
Nassau County Library System
Copyright 1966 M4sso'pequa Public library Massapequa, New 'fork
Children's story hours became a permanent part of
the library's activities. Special parties and events
were scheduled for handicapped children; and note
should be made of the library's cooperation with
the school district's psychology department in the
area of special education. More and more com-munity
groups - civic associations, women's clubs,
PTA's, ete. - came to rely on the library as a
Increased services were reflected during this period
by the addition of a Young Adult Department which
provided a specially-selected collection of books for
young people, a reference service tailored to closely
supplement high school and college courses, and
an extensive collection of college and vocational
catalogs and pamphlets. The Reference Department
has also been very active in providing a job-training
and recruitment service for students interested in
the career field of library service.
In 1959 the library circulated its one-millionth
book, and at the end of that year showed the largest
gain in circulation of all Nassau County Library
System member libraries. Circulation reached the
four-million milestone last year.
Further increased demand for library services
was felt throughout the late 50's and in 1961 the
Library Board instituted a travelling book trailer
service which provided library service to five loca-tions
in the community on a rotating weekly
schedule. Before the end of its first year in oper-ation,
trailer circulation was so large that an
additional clerk was hired and since then the trailer
operation has accounted for about 18% of the
library's total business.
With each growing year the need became greater
for expanding library service in Massapequa. The
need, desires and plans of the Library Board and
the community culminated with the opening on
June 13, 1965 of the Bar Harbour Library, a com-plete
and me dern library building, doubling the
A history of the Massapequa Public Library is
one of growth and excitement. It is the story of
an idea in the minds of a few public-spirited
residents which was developed into one of the
largest, best-staffed and best-stocked public libraries
on Long Island.
size of the Massapequa system and providing much
needed service to the entire southern segment of
It is appropriate, on this day that we celebrate
the tenth anniversary of the Central AvenueLibrary
building, that we set aside a moment to salute and
say thanks to those founders and many, many friends
who have made it all possible and whose continued
active support keep it growing and thriving.
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