Library History

Library History

Springfield Library (1999 – Going forward!)

Springfield Library was formed in 1999 by the merger of the Catlin Memorial Library, located in Springfield Center, and in 2000 the General James Clinton Free Library, located in East Springfield.

Neither the Catlin Memorial Library nor the General James Clinton Free Library was able to meet the standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which required that state-chartered libraries be handicapped accessible, have a telephone, rest rooms, a photocopier, and Internet accessibility. The Board of
Trustees for both libraries agreed to merge the libraries into one facility in the Springfield Community Center to be maintained and partially subsidized by the Town of Springfield.

A provisional charter was issued on 27 April 1999 and extended to 19 March 2007. The provisional charter was renewed on 22 May, 2012, and an application for absolute library charter to replace a provisional charter of for extension of provisional charter was submitted in June 2019.

In 2017, local volunteers worked with contractors to complete a 900-square foot expansion of the library to house the children’s room, a kitchenette, a wheelchair accessible bathroom, and additional shelving.

The Catlin Memorial Library traces its roots back to the Springfield Club, founded in 1903. The library moved to the Kit Shipman Memorial Chapel (Universalist) following the disbanding of that congregation. Kit Shipman was the wife of Edward N. Catlin, the donor of the building. Mrs. Catlin was a daughter of Oliver N. Shipman, a local manufacturer of iron ware, Whipple truss bridges, and farm implements.

The General James Clinton Library was formed in 1909. It was named for James Clinton, the Revolutionary War general who led the northern branch of the army that passed through East Springfield. The 1779 Clinton-Sullivan Campaign army destroyed Iroquois communities in central New York State. The Clinton Library also housed the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) until that local organization was disbanded.

Catlin Memorial Library (1895-1999)

The Springfield Library Association was issued a Provisional Charter, #922, by the Regents of the University of the State of New York on 26 June 1895. This charter lists Sidney N. Stiles, Willis Cook and Charles Ely as incorporating trustees. An Absolute Charter, #2552, was issued 2 May 1912. At this time the home of the library was in the building directly to the east of the Springfield Center Baptist Church. This building, known as the “Club House”

served the community of Springfield Center, providing meeting rooms, reading rooms, a gymnasium, bowling alley, and a library room. The building was made available to the Springfield Center community largely by the efforts of Leslie Pell-Clarke.

The present home of the library was built as the Kitt Shipman Catlin Memorial Chapel. The architecture of the building is that of the Queen Anne Shingle style. It was erected by Edward N. Catlin in 1900 in loving memory of his wife. This structure replaced an edifice that was erected in 1857 as a Universalist house of worship
that was incorporated by Oliver Shipman, Ezra Whipple, and Richard Vedder. A fire occurred on 24 September 1899 consuming the church, four houses, and two barns. The bell from the 1857 building currently serves, in the inverted position, as a planter on the lawn.

The Universalist congregation was disbanded and the chapel became the home of the Springfield Library Association. Edward N. Catlin deeded the property, by a warranty deed, to the Springfield Library Association on 4 October 1920, as recorded at the Otsego County Clerk’s Office, Libra 312, Page 225. The 27 March 1924 Charter, #3339, amended the 1912 Charter changing the corporate name to the Catlin Memorial Free Library.

The Catlin Memorial Library has undergone few structural changes. A modern oil-fired forced air heating system was installed in 1983. The building stands as a rich reminder of the community efforts of Springfield Center.

For further information on the Catlin Memorial Library, please see The Catlin Memorial Library Building: The Evolution of a Springfield Center Landmark by Jeffrey E. Bliemeister, 1995.

General James Clinton Library (1909-2000)

General James Clinton Library is a valued asset to East Springfield and the surrounding country. The idea of a free library for the town originated with the local D.A.R. Chapter, and in the autumn of 1908 they gave a New England supper, the proceeds forming the nucleus of a library fund.

In July, 1909, the sum amounted to $100.00. A meeting was held and officers elected. In October, 1909, the first books were purchased, the state duplicating the order for $100.00. The state library organizer catalogued them and was present at the opening, which was held November 8, 1909, at which time the library was turned over to the town and a library association formed with thirty-seven members. Rooms were rented and the library began to function.

In 1911 $200 was paid for the present library site and the same year Mr. Herbert Young, Sr., bequeathed the association one thousand dollars to be used for the erection of a building. This gift enabled the association to build in 1912 a substantial and attractive structure, 25 x 35 feet in dimension with walls of concrete blocks and a porch on two sides with a concrete floor. The roof of galvanized shingles renders it practically fireproof.

The interior is nicely finished and on its wall is a replica of the tablet on the General James Clinton marker erected by Gen. James Clinton Chapter, D.A.R. The library also bears the name of the great general who led his expedition through the town in 1779.

The cost of the building was $1,500.00. Mrs. Mary Young Walrath giving the additional $500.00.

Besides filling its mission as a library, it soon became the community house and outgrew its capacity for both purposes, which necessitated the building of an addition on the north side which is used as a dining room and for general purposes.

From The History of Springfield, by Kate M. Gray, 1935, page 211.

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