The Women’s Club of Hastings was founded in 1912, and its first project was to establish a library. The Regents of the University of the State of New York granted a Certificate of Registration to the Hastings-on-Hudson Free Library on September 25, 1913. Our home was the Village Hall building on Main Street (which is now the Hook and Ladder Fire Station). The Women’s Club donated $1500 for repairs and remodeling, received 999 used books from the community, and hired a trained librarian for $60 a month. By the 1920’s, the Village had assumed some of the financial responsibilities and the Library was governed by a board elected from among members of the Friends of the Library.
Bertha Stetson, chief librarian, was to be Hastings’ librarian for 31 years and she oversaw dramatic growth, including in 1929 a move to the second floor of the new municipal building in Fulton Park. In 1963, a League of Women Voters study found the Library to be well used and very overcrowded. Mayor Sheldon Wagner turned to philanthropist Helen Benedict (daughter of John E. Andrus) for help. Three weeks after he showed her proposed building plans by architect William Switzer, Mrs. Benedict agreed to give up to $500,000 for a new building, furnishings and landscaping. On November 12, 1966 our present building was dedicated and on October 25, 1968 the Board of Regents granted the Hastings on Hudson Public Library an absolute charter.
As the century drew to a close, it was clear that the Library was a victim of its own success. The building, constructed to house 40,000 volumes now held 60,000 items, including audiovisual materials and programs, for both children and adults alike, was constantly offered to the community. So, in 1999, the Library Board of Trustees, in partnership with the Village Board of Trustees, raised monies through a bond and fundraising to renovate, refurbish and expand the facility and the adjacent park. Now in 2013, we celebrate 100 years of lending sprees, programs and service to the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson.