144 West Merrick Road    Freeport, NY  11520    Phone: (516) 379-3274    Fax: (516) 868-9741

Freeport Memorial Library History

Library History

The Freeport Memorial Library was established in 1884 by Professor Loren M. Burdick, principal of the Freeport Schools, with funds raised by amateur entertainments. For a while, the books were kept in the clothes closet of the principal’s office in the Grove Street School. In 1895, the Board of Regents of New York State granted a provisional charter. The following year 759 volumes constituted the Library’s book collection and circulation reached 1,174. A permanent charter, signed by Melvil Dewey, was granted on December 21, 1899.

The Library was housed in the school until 1911 when it was moved to a rented room in the Miller Building on South Grove Street . Members paid ten cents for a card and were permitted to borrow two books, one fiction and one nonfiction. In 1920, the first public drive for funds for a new building was started. Elizabeth Pirodsky, a sixth grade student at the Seaman Avenue School, was the first donor. In August 1920, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., assemblyman for the Second District and the late President’s son, sent the Freeport Memorial Library Association a $20 donation. Assemblyman Roosevelt also issued a statement commending the choice made for a memorial and encouraged gifts from the American Legion members. One thousand citizens of the Village of Freeport voluntarily contributed $36,500 to the fund drive. John Anderson, owner of the site of the new building at the corner of Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue, was paid $14,775 for the land. Ground was broken for the Library on the northwest corner of Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue on April 30, 1921. The cornerstone was laid on June 25, 1922. On Memorial Day in 1924, the Beaux Arts building, designed by architect Charles M. Hart was dedicated as the first war memorial library in New York State. In 1925, the Freeport Library officially changed its name to the Freeport Memorial Library. Three years later, a memorial tablet with the names of Freeporters who died while serving in the military during the Civil War, Spanish American War, and World War I was dedicated. This table included the inscription: “In this Memorial / As in the hearts of the people of Freeport / The Memorial of the Men and Women who served in the / Wars of our Country will be enshrined forever.”

The completion of the Freeport Memorial Library building was an appropriate climax to the efforts of the citizens of the village to find a suitable and lasting memorial to the sacrifices made by those who died in the service of their country. A close look at the engravings on the original building reveals the names of the historic battles of World War I, the Spanish American War, and Civil War.

Population growth, the increased use of the Library, and a necessarily expanding book collection, soon made the original Library building inadequate. Work towards a new addition was begun to meet these needs. On Sunday afternoon, April 19, 1959, a new wing was dedicated.

In 1982, on the 90th anniversary of the Village of Freeport the residents elected to expand their Library once again. By purchasing the building adjacent to it, the Library was expanded to twice its size (48,359 square feet). The new addition was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1985. This expansion allowed the original reading room to be restored and plaques honoring Freeporters who died in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, were added. Today the Freeport Memorial Library is one of the largest public library facilities in Nassau County .

Library Timeline


Library was established by Grove Street School Principal




Provisional charter granted by the State Board of Regents to the Freeport Public Library




Freeport’s population was 2250




 The Library had a total of 1,354 books.  Between 120 and 150 books were borrowed each week




Permanent charter, signed by Melvil Dewey, founder of the American Library Association and creator of the Dewey Decimal Classification system, obtained




Professor Eugene S. McKinley, acting librarian, received a letter from Andrew Carnegie offing $10,000 to erect a free public library if Freeport could provide a suitable location and guarantee $1000 a year be dedicated to the Library. No documentation has been found to explain why Freeport declined Mr. Carnegie's offer



Library adopted the Dewey Decimal Classification System




Alice Rogan appointed the first librarian




Library moved to the Miller Building, 28 South Grove Street (now Guy Lombardo Avenue)




September 1, 1919 - Monument and tree dedicated on Brooklyn Avenue in memory of Freeport firefighter and World War I casualty, Henry Theodore Mohr by the Freeport Fire Department. Monument and tree later relocated to the Library grounds




Freeport’s population reached 8600


Drive was started for public subscription for funds to build the library


August 10, 1920 - $20 donation sent to the Freeport Memorial Library Association from Assemblyman Theodore Roosevelt (the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and a founder of the American Legion)


September 9, 1920 – Contract drawn up for purchase of land for Library building




Freeport Memorial Library Association sent a letter to the White House inviting President Warren G. Harding to the cornerstone laying ceremony


April 30, 1921- ground was broken for the new building


Joseph Susskind of Blossom Health Inn, located in Lynbrook, donated a Peerless automobile to be used for fundraising to support Library construction




President Warren G. Harding informed the Freeport Memorial Library Association that he could not attend the cornerstone laying ceremony


Cornerstone was laid after a week of delay because of the rain




May 13, 1924 (Memorial Day) – building dedicated and became the first war memorial library in New York State




Name officially changed to Freeport Memorial Library, honoring the Freeport's war dead




May 30, 1927 – dedication of a bronze plaque inscribed with the Gettysburg address from the Women’s Relief Corps


Children’s Room and services initiated

1928 Memorial Tablet added to the main reading room. (View photo of Civil War Veterans attending the ceremony)


Library began opening on Sundays from 2 to 6 p.m.




In celebration of the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth, a Washington Elm was planted on the west lawn of the Library.  Donated by the Ruth Floyd Woodhull Chapter of the D.A.R., it was a direct descendant of a tree that stood in Cambridge, MA.  According to popular legend, it was under this tree that George Washington took command of the Continental Army.  This tree was later destroyed by disease




After 30 years of service Alice Rogan retires




Lena Ruppert served as librarian. Resigned in 1945 to work in US Overseas Information Center


Junior High School room and services initiated


Homebound service offered 

1942 Phonograph records added to the collection


Columbus Avenue School served as a branch library until the coming of the Bookmobile in 1952




Collection of recordings was started




Elizabeth Kelly appointed director




Films added to the collection



World War II memorial plaque dedicated




16mm film collection for families and groups was started in 1959




Bookmobile garage built north of the Library


Bookmobile began neighborhood and school stops




World War II Honor Roll removed from Library grounds when Merrick Road was expanded

 circa 1954

C. I. T. building constructed.  This building eventually became the west wing of the library 




A proposition to float a $330,000 bond to expanded the Library building was defeated by the Village taxpayers (779 for; 1143 against)


Freeport Community Council sponsors a tree planting service on the Library property to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the United Nations




Ground was broken for the building addition. Architect: Charles A. Wood




April 19, 1959 -   New addition dedicated




Wilfred L. Morin appointed director


The Library joined the Nassau Library System


Memorial plaques added to the front of the building

1961 July 4, 1961 - Gold Star Window unveiled




Framed picture collection added for circulation

1962 Gold Star Window lighted.
1962 October 1962, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Freeport's incorporation, the Exchange Club gave the Library the "Freedom Shrine"
1963 The library was selected to house a fallout shelter.  A total of 15 shelters were designated throughout the Village.  These shelters were to be to be used in the event of a nuclear attack.  The library’s shelter capacity: 116 people
1964 Borrowing time for books was raised from two weeks to 28 days (new books remained seven days)
1965 February 7, 1965 - Plaque honoring the Four Chaplains dedicated
1966 August 1966, the Village of Heiloo, the Netherlands, donated begonias to the library


Helen Wilmont, librarian, retired from the Library after 20 years of service

1968 November 1968 - Vietnam monument dedicated




Mrs. Cecil Bostick donated evergreens in memory of her husband to enhance the Vietnam Memorial




 Mezzanine added and skylights covered in the reading room of the original 1924 building.




Friends of the Freeport Memorial Library established




Bell sculpture on East building and carillon donated by Dr. Mervin L. Schloss Foundation in memory of his parents

1978 December - Jeanette Klempner elected first woman president of the library board




 Library Director Wilfred Morin was presented with the LDA Award for Excellence in Library Achievement by the Nassau County Library Association




Wilfred Morin retired


Gerald (Jerry) Nichols, who started his library career as a bookmobile driver, appointed library director


Freeport residents voted to expand Library again


Job Education and Information Center created


Automated circulation system initiated

1983 Building owned by Adelphi University, purchased by the Freeport School District for Library expansion.  This building was originally the C. I. T. building
1984 Online card catalog system initiated
1984 Zippy the Chimp received a Freeport Memorial Library card




May 19, 1985 - New Library addition dedicated on Memorial Day – FML becomes Nassau County ’s largest public library until Hewlett Woodmere Public Library expansion in 1996


Tree planted in memory of Dr. William F. Gillespie, Library Board member 1968 to 1984


Korea and Vietnam memorial plaque dedicated




Jerry Nichols leaves to become library director at Half Hollow Hills Public Library. He later becomes director of Suffolk Cooperative Library System


Dave Opatow appointed library director




ALIS Corporation formed




Paper card catalogs removed and replaced with OPACs




Library provided free Internet service




April 19, 1998 – Children’s Wing dedicated to Vincent S. Palladino, M.D., to mark his 25 years of services a member of the Library Board of Trustees




Freeport Landmarks Preservation Committee placed historical marker on Library grounds




Freeport population is 44,026


American Legion dedicated a new War Memorial to the front of the Library building


Community Services Department formed


Tree planted in memory of Laura Marchese (Giglio) – former Library employee who died on 9/11




Bookmobile services discontinued


Bookmobile garage torn down to make room for additional parking




WiFi introduced


LILRC invites the library to join a Long Island history digitization program. Library and Freeport Historical Society partnered in the scanning process


March 28, 2004 – Newsday featured Library in article “ Freeport ’s Reading Memorial” (page G22)


Freeport Memorial Library’s collection included 217,385 books, 48 subscription databases, 7,000 video recordings, 19,409 audio recordings, and 434 periodical subscriptions. The Library provided 8,000 adult, YA, and Children’s programs. The annual number of visits was approximately 426,843

2006 February 5, 2006 - An article featuring FML’s popular Conversation Circles program, appeared in Newsday (“At the Libraries, The Accent is on Learning the Lingo” page G2)
2007 Freeport Memorial Library featured as a "Library of Distinction" in Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love: Treasured Libraries of the United States and Canada
2007 July - Librarian Anita Gordon retired after 35 years of service
2008 May 16, 2008 - The Salvation Army awarded the library a Special Recognition Award during its Annual Civic Dinner
2008 August 5, 2008 - Newsday published an article on Freeport's war dead who are honored on the Library's plaques and monuments: "They're No Longer Forgotten" Page 12A
2009 January 26, 2009 - Newsday published an article on the Freeport Library: "Booked Libraries: Recession Has More LIers Using Resources" Page A28
2009 April 25, 2009 - Young poets are honored in a contest organized by the Freeport memorial Library, county poet laureate committee, and Nassau's poet laureate, Maxwell Corydon Wheat Jr. ("Well-versed LI Poets" Newsday. 26 April 2009:A8)
2009 Crepe Myrtle tree donated by Tancredi family


March 13, 2010 – Newsday published an article about the Library’s Spanish language book club: “Accent on Spanish in Freeport, A Book Club’s Members Immerse themselves in the Language” Page B4


July 24, 2010 - Newsday published an article about the Soul With Heart Book: “Shared Passion for Books: The Freeport Memorial Library Reading Group Lives Up to Its Name – Soul With Heart” Page B4

2010  Free downloadable e-books made available through the Library's web site


 Dave Opatow retired as library director after 24 years
2011  Ken Bellafiore appointed library director
2012 April 2012 - West wing renovations began
 2013 Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC) opened 
 2013 Three Freeport Librarians (Margaux DelGuidice, Rose Luna, and Tanisha Mitchell) were featured in the March 15, 2013 issue of Library Journal.



Library Timeline Sources


Bentel, Maria and Frederick Bentel. “Building the Community.Long Island Architecture. Ed. Joann P. Krieg. Long Island Studies, Hofstra University, 1991. 41-50.

Cessese, Sid. “Freeport’s Reading Memorial.” Newsday 28 Mar 2004, Combined ed.: G22.

DeLorme, John F. Photographic History of Early Freeport. Collected and annotated by John F. DeLorme, 1955.

Edwards, Guy. Study of a Public Library: Freeport Memorial Library. Graduate Paper, Long Island University, 1986.

Freeport Newsletter. Freeport, NY: Village of Freeport June, 1960.

-- "Automation Topic of Library Board." The Leader 5 August 1982: 4

-- "Break Ground for Library on Saturday." The Freeport News 22 April 1921: 1

-- “For a Free Library." Brooklyn Daily Eagle 11 Mar 1896: 5.

-- “For the Library.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2 Nov 1897: 12.

-- “For the Library Fund.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 5 Mar 1902: 8.

-- “Freeport’s New Library.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 4 Apr 1896: 19.

-- Freeport Library Association Correspondences (binders 1 and 2) [circa 1920].

-- “Freeport’s Library” Brooklyn Daily Eagle 25 Mar 1898: 4.

-- Freeport Memorial Library Dedication Brochure. 1924.

-- "Subscriptions to Library Fund Raised $10,000." The Freeport News 6 May 1921: 1

Groves, Marion Nash. The History of the Freeport Memorial Library, 1884-1938. Brookville, NY: Graduate Library School of Long Island Univ. 1968.

Markley, Anne Marie.  Survey of the Freeport Memorial Library, Columbia University School of Library Science: April 1951.

Metz, Clinton E. Freeport as It Was. Freeport, NY: Clinton Metz, 1976.

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