Rosendale Library Logo

ABOUT / FRIENDS /HOME / IMAGES / KIDS / LIBRARY BOARD /LOCAL HISTORY / PROGRAMS

The History of Rosendale Library
by Linda Tantillo

Rosendale already had libraries in the nineteenth century when libraries were rather rare, restricted, and children were not allowed entrance. Various local cement concerns had private company libraries.  A “Library and Gymnasium” appear on an 1898 map of Main Street, Rosendale, although its exact use is unknown. The building is still there today. 

A public lending library was started by the Comus Club in 1940. This club was formed in Rosendale in 1929 by Anna Mae Auchmoedy and a group of high school girls.  Though the girls had fun, they also did community service projects.  One of these projects was to create a lending library in Mrs. Auchmoedy’s Town Clerk office.  It opened on June 21, 1940, with 600 books on loan from the State Department of Education. Community members donated additional books.

Make-up  booth at library fair

Library Fair Make-up Booth August 1958: Mildred Moylan, Emma Pezzello, Marion Sickles,
Mrs. Benjamin Barbuto, Mary Shillenberger.Over 150 people volunteered for the 1958 Rosendale Library Fair.

In 1953, the Woman’s Club of Rosendale hit upon the idea of turning the little lending library in Anna Mae Auchmoedy’s Town Clerk’s office into an official town library. Women’s Clubs had long been leaders in organizing and supporting public libraries. In fact, by the 1930s three-quarters of all public libraries in the U.S. had been established by Women’s Clubs.

When Anna Mae retired from her town position in 1954 –- by then she had accumulated 1500 books — the Woman’s Club made serious plans for a public library. They consulted with the New York State Library Commission to prepare plans for funding, housing and official status. The Rosendale Library Association was established in 1958 and the Charter was granted on October 24 of that same year. Finding a home for the new library was a huge consideration. The little All Saints Episcopal Chapel had been abandoned after two devastating hurricanes flooded it out in 1955. It would make a lovely library!  But the church was scheduled to be sold and possibly destroyed, and the Women’s Club did not have the money to buy and refurbish it.  Rumors spread that it was going to be sold and torn down to build a gas station. Andrew J. Snyder, president of the Century Cement Company, came to the rescue. His family had built the All Saints Chapel in 1876 hoping to inspire the cement workers to do something more wholesome on Sundays than go to the taverns. His love of the structure and of the town, combined with his philanthropic nature, moved him to buy the church, refurbish it, and give it to the Rosendale Women’s Club for use as a public library.

Andrew Snyder on his horse

Rosendale Library Benefactor Andrew J. Snyder on his horse, Royal Rage, with his dog, Dart.

 

Twenty–one local organizations met to create the Rosendale Library Association.  Anna Mae Auchmoedy became its first librarian.  The Woman’s Club donated books and furniture. Library members donated various items ranging from a Bible to a doormat. The Town Board made donations as well.

Women’s Club members Martha Wesp, Dorothy Mastro,
Elsie Ingram preparing for Rosendale Library Strawberry Festival, June 1960.

On January 15, 1975, a fire destroyed the interior of the Rosendale Library and most of its collection.  A small temporary library was set up on the second floor of the Fireman’s Hall on Main Street.  Enough money was raised not only  to repair the building, but also to add a new wing on the north side that is now the children’s room and office. Local mason Bruce Pederson, only 23 years old, did the beautiful, but difficult, job of matching the old stone and masonry work.  A slate roof was put on the addition in keeping with the original structure.  During the three years of construction disaster struck the building again when the rear wall of the building collapsed, destroying a large stained glass rose window that was to be featured in the remodeled building.

Wendy Alexander Library Director

Library Director Wendy Alexander pictured in 1978 with the new hanicapped accessible ramp that
was acquired through a Mid-Hudson Library System Special Purpose Grant.

In April of 1977 Wendy Alexander became Rosendale Library's first certified librarian and is still the library's director today. Back then this made it possible for the library to receive its Absolute Charter granted by the Board of Regents of the State of New York.  In July of that same year the repaired library building was rededicated and the new children’s wing named in honor of Anna Mae Auchmoedy.

ribbon cutting

Ribbon cutting ceremony, Library Fair, 1978: Lalie Priest, Rose LeFever,
Pat Merck, Anna Mae Auchmoedy, Helen Mathews, Carl Mihm, Lou Muenkel.

All Saints Chapel/Rosendale Library was placed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 1986.  The building won its designation for its architectural significance, citing its “unusual and interesting materials.”  Its masonry combines local limestone cement rock (originally a shade of blue), local rubble stone, and Rosendale cement, making it a uniquely Rosendale construction.

marion sickles

Marion Sickles, Ruth Ghear, Dick Glazer, Pat Merck and Anne Furey planning
Historic Landmark Designation ceremony, 1986.

After much work by many people, Rosendale Library succeeded in having the State of New York establish a Special District Public Library for the Town of Rosendale in 1987. It was probably the first such district of its kind in the Hudson Valley.  It was voted on in the communuity in 1988 and received widespread support.  This special district gave the public a larger voice in the running of the library and made it truly a public library.

New technology was introduced in 1988 with computers for public and office use.  Free public Internet service was initiated in 1997.  In 2001 barcoded books and patron Fastcards greatly expanded public access to library materials in the entire Mid-Hudson Library System through online catalogs, interlibrary loans and reciprocal borrowing privileges. That same year the Rosendale Library received four public use computers through the Gates Foundation.   Rosendale Library has also been successful in obtaining grants from IBM, Mid-Hudson Library System, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Documentary Heritage Program, New York Council for the Arts, Stewarts, Dutchess County Arts Council, and state and federal government grants to support our technological and cultural endeavors.  Support from our patrons has been wonderful and greatly appreciated.

In 2008 we celebrated our Fiftieth Anniversary with several special activities.  We also preserved our past by having our beautiful but worn out slate roof replaced to its original glory.  And we are looking to the future with the arrival of new public access computers and printers over the next two years through Gates Foundation Online Opportunity Grant and a hardware/software package from an Advanced Networks and Services grant.  Stop in and see what’s new!