The Malverne Public Library will celebrate its 90th anniversary on Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m. The event will feature activities for children, a photo exhibit of the library over the years and a book sale.
The library received its charter from the state on April 18, 1929, but its history dates back a few years further. On Aug. 16, 1924, three women — Janet Drumm, Martha Ives and Marguerite Dressner — established a library at the village’s train station, just three years after the village was incorporated. It shared space with the post office and the real estate office of Lucian J. Bisbee, the first village clerk. The library originally consisted of a single shelf of books, and was open only occasionally.
It moved to a small building commonly known as “the Shack,” in 1927, owned by Drumm, on the east side of Hempstead Avenue, across from her home, where Grace Lutheran Church is today. “The growth of the library mirrors the growth of the village,” said Don Pupke, a board member of the Malverne Historical & Preservation Society. “At the time, when the village had a shack for a library, it was really mostly just farms, and now it’s become a first-class village, and we have the need for a first-class library.”
The village assumed support of the library and moved it to a single room in a building on Church Street in 1929. Then, in 1934, it was relocated to a storefront on Hempstead Avenue, and its hours were increased from six to 20 per week. It took up residence at its current location, at St. Thomas Place, in 1954. “Having a library was a big step,” Pupke said. “People took such great pride in their library. You arrived when you had a first-class post office and a library building because that said who you were. It defined you as a community.”
Current library President Rita Chiachiere said that since the village doesn’t have a community center, the building has been a hub for people of all ages. “It’s not just a place to get a book and walk out the door,” Chiachiere said. “Of all the buildings in the village, this building probably gets the most traffic. It’s really interesting to see how the library gets used and how many people want to be here.”
Chiachiere, who has been with the library for nearly 20 years, said that while it’s nice to commemorate 90 years, she is excited to about what the future holds. “The arc of the change that has gone on here, it will be interesting to [see] what kind of resources will be available in the future,” she said. “We will keep adapting to whatever the community’s needs are, and we hope we’ll be successful with that.”
Library Director Marianne Kobbe, who is retiring later this month, said that the facility has undergone numerous changes over the years. She said that with the proliferation of technology, it might be time for another “growth spurt.”
“As more library resources become digital and people are downloading e-books and audiobooks to their devices, the phenomenon in most libraries has been to create more space for people to congregate and fewer print resources,” Kobbe said. “We’ve become Wi-Fi- and computer-based, a meeting space for people and less of a book repository. We have to continue to plan for the next five years.”