*** Summer reading programs begin June 24th ***



History of the Library

A Capsule History of the Fairport Public Library (FPL)

pencil sketch of school district number 9 buildingPerinton voters approved $10 "for purchasing a library" — ultimately our own FPL — for Fairport's District School No. 9 at 36 East Church St.


gravesite of Charles H Dickinson

The new library began with Charles H. Dickinson as its
librarian. He served until October of 1842. Librarians to 1855 are named in School No. 9 records at the Fairport Historical Museum.


Library started opening to the public every other Saturday afternoon.


The school and its now-public library were moved to a new building at 38 E. Church St. Old School No.9 razed.


Private libraries in the 1870s — 1890s:

These coexisted with the school library as Fairport's rapidly growing population drew the School Board's attention to school construction and away from focusing on its own library.

photo of Julia dickinsonThe first private library (1880 or earlier and which they called the "Fairport Public Library"!) was that of Julia and Emma Dickinson *(Charles' daughters) and Elizabeth Dowd. This was in the Dickinson home at 10 East Church Street. It was relocated (date unknown) to 123 South Main Street photo of 123 south main street pre 1938where a cousin, Mrs. Buckland and, later, Mr. & Mrs. Charles D. Case were librarians. This library was open to the public, but it was not free. It closed in 1893 or 1894.

Later, apparently both John H. Hardick and William T. Fonda operated private rental libraries in the Hawkins Block on the east side of South Main Street near the canal.

1870s - 1890s

photo of the union school 38 west church streetContinuing FPL's "genealogy":

School No. 9 was moved — with its library — to 38 West Church St. as the Fairport Classical & Union Free School. In 1874, this was chartered by the N.Y. Regents as Fairport's first high school.


A new state law permitted the transfer of school libraries to Library Committees which would make the books available to the public. FPL received its provisional charter on November 21. It is the only State School District Library in Monroe County. We are uncertain whether Mabel E. Storms or Charlotte Goodrich [Mrs. Frank] Howard was the first FPL Librarian.


Books were moved from the high school to a room in the Hawkins Block (demolished for the 1912-13 canal enlargement).


It is clear that Mrs. Howard was Librarian this year. She served until 1901.


sketch of the Bown BlockNettie I. Reynolds became Librarian and FPL moved to the Bown Block on the west side of South Main St. In 1906, FPL moved into a larger room in the Bown Block (demolished in 1977 with urban renewal.)


Ida M. Cheesbrough became Librarian, serving through August of 1921. Absolute (permanent) FPL Charter granted June 28, by the Regents of the University of the State of New York. The original document is in the Raymond F. Buchanan Board Room at FPL.


Chamber of Commerce sought Carnegie Corporation money for a new library. Voters approved the local share of the cost but rejected all proposed sites, so Carnegie support had to be relinquished.


18 perrin street wood frame structureFPL moved to a frame house at 18 Perrin Street, which the School District owned. This site was "home" for 61 years!


Helen DeLand later described this as "a short period of confusion with many helpers" until Helen B. Fuller was appointed Librarian in 1922.


helen parce deland portrait

Miss Helen Parce DeLand was appointed FPL Librarian.


Miss DeLand now also became F.H.S. Librarian when the new West Avenue school opened. The two libraries were combined under a single board.


photo of Elma Gaffney

Elma Nau Gaffney began "helping out". She became a member of the Library Board in 1931.


Robert Douglas gave 500 shares of Certo stock to the Library Building Fund. Henry A. Martin's design was chosen. The Depression plunged the stock's value until there was not enough money to build a new library. Plans were shelved temporarily.


Anticipating the demolition and replacement of the house at 18 Perrin St., FPL moved to temporary quarters in the Schummer's Block on West Avenue.


Miss DeLand was ill and could not continue in both library positions. Mrs. Gaffney was FPL's Acting Librarian.


Mrs. Gaffney's appointment as Librarian became effective. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) approved our new public library building as a project. Henry Martin's plans were used; Mrs. Gaffney was construction manager.


current 18 perrin street building

The new 18 Perrin Street library was officially opened on March 5. Carl Peters' mural is a prominent feature.


Mrs. Gaffney worked in California from March until November. Helen Myers Martin served as interim Librarian.


New Absolute Charter as part of Perinton Central School District No. 1. The original is in the FPL Director's office.


FPL joined the Monroe County Library System. Mrs. Gaffney had played a very important part in its creation.


Recreation / Meeting Room re-modeled and became the Children's Room. Mrs. Parce Hannan was Children's Librarian.


photo of Ray Buchanan holding a large stack of books

Mrs. Gaffney retired after nearly 40 years with FPL. She was an FPL volunteer at least until 1978. She died in 1980. Raymond F. Buchanan was appointed Director. FPL was growing rapidly because of
the burgeoning suburban population.


map of 27 east church street and surrounding neighborhoodJune 8th: a $48,500 referendum was approved by voters (YES - 1166; NO - 989) to purchase property for a new library building at 27 East Church Street (formerly St. Luke's Episcopal Church)


May 3rd: a $932,000 referendum to build a new library at 27 East Church Street fails by a mere 56 votes (YES - 1032; NO - 1078). The library continues to maintain the building/property and collect rent from business tenants as they consider options.


March 22nd: Two referendums are held One is $895,00 for a new building and the other is $75,000 for a basement expansion to the new building. The vote fails by a wider margin that the previous year (YES - 887; NO - 1457). No further attempts were made to build a new library at 27 East Church Street.  After some time, being unable to find a tenant and not wanting to continue maintaining the property, the library auctions off the contents and tears down the building. The vacant lot remaining is maintained until it is sold to the Fairport Fire Department, Fire Station #1 is constructed on the property and dedicated in 1981.


photo of volunteers carrying boxes from 18 perrin street to the new village landing site in 1978Volunteers moved the library, box by box, to its new home in the Village Landing. Official opening: March 20.


A major renovation was completed. The Library had been closed for six weeks.


photo of a traditional card catalog

Card catalog replaced by CARL, a Monroe County-wide computer system.


plaque that reads "this building was the site of the fairport public library from march 1928 to march 1978. it was constructed as a WPA project. the interior mural, painted bye local artist Cale Peters, depicts the evolution the the fairport-perinton community. this plaque was donated by the friends of the Fairport public library to celebrate the library's centennial November 21, 1995"A centennial reception was held on November 21, and a commemorative plaque was placed on the building at 18 Perrin St., now the Fairport Historical Museum.


FPL expanded once more, but this time could remain at the same location. A much larger Children's Room and a Quiet Room were created. FPL reopened April 11.


Ray Buchanan retired after 32 years of service as Director. Betsy Gilbert was appointed Director. She came to FPL from the Rochester Regional Library Council which was located at Packett's Landing across Fairport's Main Street from the library.


photo of the former main street entrance to the fairport library

FPL surveyed its community to assess service, space & location priorities.


The Small Business Resource Center, est'd. 2001, renamed to honor Seymour Rudin


drawing of proposed library renovation and relocation

A $16.3million relocation to former Tops/Vix site is rejected by voters. Library Board decides against a second vote in early 2011.


A $4.3 million proposal to renovate the existing space is passed by the voters (YES - 2541 ; NO - 955)


photo showing the location of the temporary little library and program space on main street

FPL closed for renovation from December 1, 2014 - January 2, 2015. During this time, FPL moved to a temporary location at 30 Perinton Hills. To maintain a presence in the village, there was also a satellite location, or "Little Library", at 20 Village Landing (formerly Seasons of Fairport and Candy Nation) with a small collection of materials as well as public PCs.


On August 28, 2015, the "Little Library"closed, and on September 18, 2015, the temporary library at Perinton Hills closed.  On November 2,2015, FPL reopened to the public in the newly renovated space at 1 Fairport Village Landing.


Betsy Gilbert retired after 19 years of service as Director. Carl Gouveia is our current Director. He came to FPL from the Seymour Library in Brockport, where he served as director. Before that, he was a High School Librarian in the Rochester City School District.


In mid-March, FPL closed its doors to the public due to the New York State Public Health Order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Programming was moved online and the library's digital collection was increased. In mid-May, as New York State allowed, staff returned ot the building and offered "Parkside Pickup" where patrons could pickup library materials from the Children's Room window facing Kennelley Park. By the end of June, the library reopened the library building to the public, being only the second in Monroe County to do so. Over the next year, FPL gradually brought back services.


FPL celebrated its 125thphoto of items retrieved from time capsule birthday with an opening of the time capsule and a celebration at Kennelley Park. The celebration was originally scheduled for 2020, but postponed due tophoto of items to be placed in new time capsule COVID-19. The time capsule was refilled and resealed to be opened in 2045.


Version 3.0, March 2012, by Roger W. Nelson, Fairport NY. Based on personal interviews, several earlier histories and previous timeline notes by Sue Roberts and by Jane Maher.

Version 3.1, December 2023, added events occurring after the last update in March 2012, by Carl Gouveia. Several photos courtesy of the Perinton Historical Society.


Select “CatalogPlus” to search our library catalog. Or select “Website” to search for specific content on our website.

Quick Links