Library History

For more than 50 years, the Mahopac Library has been dedicated to quality library service to the community. It began in a classroom at Lakeview School in 1952 with a $50 budget and a donated collection of adult books. Later, the Library Association moved into rented space on the second floor of Erickson’s Ice Cream Parlor. On November 17, 1961 it was granted a Provisional Charter as the Lake Mahopac Library Association. In 1967, the Association purchased the whole building from the Erickson family—about 5,200 square feet of space on two levels plus another 2,000 square feet of basement storage. In 1971, the Library was designated as the Reference Center for Putnam County by the Mid-Hudson Library System. On June 23, 1972 the Library received its Absolute Charter as the Mahopac Library.

Space limitations always were apparent. In 1976, a capital campaign was undertaken. However, it fell short of its goal and, in lieu of the proposed expansion, some structural renovations and enhancements were made. The open-air porch on the second floor was enclosed, new windows were installed, and an enclosed entry was built.

During the 1980s, space concerns took a back seat to the need for a stable financial foundation. In 1987, the effort to create a tax-based, school district public library was achieved. On July 24, 1987 the Board of Regents of The University of the State of New York issued an Absolute Charter to The Mahopac Library, designating it as a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) educational corporation.

The 1990s saw renewed interest in space and technology. In 1991, the Library’s Board of Trustees authorized another renovation. This time, the roof was replaced, air conditioning was installed, new carpeting was laid, wiring capable of handling the growing electronic information technology was provided, and the interior of the building was repainted. On April 24, 1995, Mahopac Library officially linked to the Mid-Hudson Library System GEAC/CLSI online catalog and circulation system.

Changing demographics (new families with young children, immigrants, retirees), an expanding population, and a fluctuating economy once again placed pressure on the library’s building. Beginning in 1994, the Library’s Board of Trustees began exploring the possibility of a new facility, undertook a feasibility study, retained the services of an architect and a construction management firm, and finally asked the Mahopac Central School District’s Board of Education to put the issue before its voters. On October 17, 2000, residents of Mahopac Central School District approved a 7.9 million dollar bond issue for the construction of a new 30,000 square foot library on the site of Erickson’s Ice Cream Parlor. During construction, the Library operated from 4,000 square feet of rented space and three cargo containers.

Ground was broken for the new building on October 1, 2002. An unofficial flag topping ceremony marking the completion of the steel framework took place in February 2003. The cornerstone ceremony was held on January 21, 2004. The new building opened to the public on March 23, 2004 and the official ribbon cutting ceremony was held on April 24, 2004.

Eight months later, on December 20, 2004, a 2” sprinkler pipe in the attic froze and burst causing more than $800,000 worth of damage. Two-thirds of the building had to be closed for six months in order to make the necessary repairs. An arson attempt on January 20, 2005 received widespread media coverage but remains unsolved. On September 24, 2005, the Library celebrated a belated 1st birthday with the dedication a flagpole. The Library also petitioned the Board of Regents of The University of the State of New York for a name change and on November 3, 2005 an Amendment to the Absolute Charter was issued that officially changed the name of the Library to the Mahopac Public Library.

Although there were still things to be done on the building to-do list, the Library was recognized as the 2005 Public Library Building of the Year by the Public Library Section of the New York Library Association. And, although the building was not selected as one of the 80 libraries to be profiled in Berkshire Publishing Group’s Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love, the Library will receive a Certificate of Distinction and will be listed in the book along with a photograph. The tradition of dedicated service continues.

~ Patricia Kaufman, Director (ret. October 15, 2013)


Photo: Members of the Lake Mahopac Library Association, April 4, 1962. Left to right: Mrs. Hans Truebe, Mrs. Walter Burghardt, Mrs. John Dain, Mrs. Nathan Levine, Thomas A Rowe, Louis Horowitz, Waldo Erickson and Manny Schleien.

Circulating library is established in a room at Lakeview School with book donations and a budget of $50.

Library receives a five-year provisional State Charter.

Library purchases Erickson’s Ice Cream Parlor & Boat Livery, the building to be used as its new home.

Library is named the reference center for Putnam County.

Library receives permanent charter status as a Free Association Library.

The newly renovated Mahopac Library opens to the public.

Library becomes a school district public library.

Library becomes automated.

Residents of Mahopac Central School district approve a 7.9 million dollar bond issue to build a 30,000 square foot library on the site of the former Erickson’s Ice Cream Parlor & Boat Livery.

Library moves to temporary quarters in preparation for construction of new library building. Ground Breaking takes place in October.

Construction is completed, books and materials are moved from the temporary facility to the new building, and preparations are made to open to the public.

The cornerstone dedication ceremony takes place in mid-January. The new library building opens to the public on March 23. A ribbon cutting ceremony, building dedication, and gala takes place on April 24.