The Shelter Island Library is a cultural and knowledge center providing information, technology, programs and facilities supporting the diverse needs of all its patrons. The library plays an important role in the life of the community and fosters lifelong learning.
The Shelter Island Public Library’s mission is to provide state-of-the art resources, services, and technologies to meet the current and evolving needs of the community. It is the town’s primary year-round information and cultural resource for both residents and visitors. The Library’s staff and Board of Trustees focus on providing materials, services, programs, events, activities and staffing that promote education, information access and usage, entertainment and the arts, for the benefit and enrichment of all segments of the community. Key audiences include adults, children of all ages, students, and seniors as well as patrons with special needs. Critical resources include space, excellent staff, facilities, free programs and open access to materials and media.
A BRIEF HISTORY
From the beginning, the Shelter Island library has been the recipient of generous donations and gifts from community residents. Its first library was created in 1885 (click here to read the original library minutes) through the efforts of Professor Eben Norton Horsford, a Harvard professor and friend of many literary lights of his day. Professor Horsford married a descendant of Shelter Island’s founding family and went on to become lord of Sylvester Manor. He donated 280 volumes for the first library, which was initially housed in a closet in the Old Store, a building located not far from the present library that functioned as a post office, telegraph station, and local meeting place. After the store burned down in 1891, a new library for more books donated by Professor Horsford was built on a nearby lot donated by his daughter Lilian, and his daughter Cornelia became the library’s first president. In 1896, the Shelter Island Public Library joined the New York State Board of Regents to become a certified library. By the early 1960s, the island's population had grown to more than a thousand residents, and a newer, larger library was needed. Another prominent Shelter Island family, the Tuthills, donated the lot where the present building stands. A group of public-spirited organizations and citizens, including the Shelter Island Lions Club and Board of Trustees President and Lord of Sylvester Manor, Andrew Fiske, led a community-wide fund drive to raise the needed $70,000 for construction. On August 14, 1965 the new Shelter Island Public Library was dedicated. By-laws amended January 2014