In 1811, fifty men got together in the Town of Crown Point to organize a library. The minutes of that meeting, held "the 23rd day of October AD 1811," began: "We the subscribers whose names are underwritten hereby unite and form ourselves into a Society by the name of "The Crown Point Library Society," and we hereby severally promise and ingage [sic] to pay the sum of two dollars to Lyman Clark, Elisha Rhodes and David Cross esquires as a committee to be by them laid out and expended in purchasing books, for said Society".
They were serious, forward-looking men in a time when the Town of Crown Point was one of the biggest towns in the area in the young United States of America. The town spread far beyond its present boundaries and encompassed much of what is now Essex County.
Little actual cash money was available, so a member might pay his dues instead by donating books to the library, therefore the Crown Point Library Society: "Voted that the committee put up a notification in two or three publick [sic] places in town notifying these members who calculate to turn in their books by the 10th of March next or they will not be received."
They also, "Voted the librarian procure a suitable bookcase and a blank book for to keep the records in". The library had a total of 74 books to put in the bookcase to start with, a remarkable achievement for that time.
The Library Society wanted the books to be taken care of too, so they established rules. "Voted that no proprietor shall hold a book over two months from the time of drawing. Voted that any proprietor holding a book over two months shall forfeit and pay to the Treasurer two cents per day untill [sic] they shall return the book so withheld."
Damaging a book brought serious fines: "Voted that the following be fines that each proprietor shall subject themselves to for damaging any book viz. Each drop of tallow, eight cents [sic]. Each and every torn leaf, eight cents [sic]. Every leaf turned down, three cents. Every rent in the binding, twelve and a half cents [sic]. And for soiling a book in any manner, six cents [sic]".
If you had to read a book by tallow candle light, it might well take two months to read it, but you'd better be careful with that candle!
From this small beginning the Crown Point Library grew and was opened to the public. It was self-supporting in those days and depended on fund-raisers and donations for books and supplies.
In 1894, a Provisional Charter was granted to the library and it was given the name, "Crown Point Chapel Library". For many years the library was quartered in the upstairs of the Hammond home, now known as the Hammond Chapel, and was later moved to the ground floor where it stayed until 1928.
Because of the support the Hammond family gave the library for so many years, when the Absolute Charter was granted in 1899, the name was changed to "Hammond Library".
In 1929, the present Crown Point Central School was built and a room was provided on the main floor for the Hammond Library. Later, when the school was enlarged, a separate entrance was built for it and the library was moved to the basement. For 12 years it occupied the room that had once been a cafeteria.
After 59 years in the school building, in 1988, a new charter was granted by the Regents of the State of New York, with a new official name, "The Hammond Library of Crown Point, NY."
And in 1990, for the first time in its history, the library had a home all its own. Through the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County, the old Crown Point Garage building on Main Street had been renovated into a spacious, convenient library for the people of Crown Point. (One of the requirements to secure state funding was that an existing building had to be remodeled rather than a new one built.) The building is centrally located and has easy access for the handicapped, part of the requirements the state has established for public buildings.
The Hammond Library of Crown Point is a member of the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System which is based in Plattsburgh and is also part of the New York State Library. This makes it possible for library patrons to make requests from an almost unlimited number of printed and audio books, as well as movies and music.
This history was written in the year 1990 and updated in 2008.