The Amsterdam Free Library

Message from the Library Director:

As the Amsterdam Free Library moved into the new year,  we began circulation on the new online system.  Automation continues to be our primary focus.  The staff and I have been very busy learning the new system while simultaneously phasing out the former one.

We are still awaiting a building permit approval to begin installation of the elevator.  We were thrilled to receive MVLA's endorsement of our construction grant application to help fund this worthy project.

Our library experienced several staff and board changes in 2001.  The Board of Trustees  have appointed Barbara Catena to replace outgoing member Shirley Iodice.  Shirley moved away from this area and will long be remembered for her dedication, hard work and many accomplishments made on behalf of the library community.  Georgianna "Georgie" Casline retired in July after 18 years of dedicated service.   We welcomed new additions to the staff  - Sharon Kruger, Carol Sidlauskas and Joan Denton.

The Children's  Department is hosting "A Family Adventure Through the Performing Arts" , a series funded by the Schoharie County Arts Council and our Friends group.  Singer songwriter Tom Knight kicked off the show  in March performing to a packed house.   We celebrate National Library Week in April with nationally  known  folk duo, Bridget Ball and Christopher Shaw appearing  in a two hour concert on April 20  to entertain us with sea shanties, Cajun and Gospel music blended with Adirondack folk songs.  Poppy Doodle Puppets will  appear on May 2  bringing their magical cast of medieval characters.  Our adventure concludes on June 6 with  the KO-MOTION Movement Theater group  offering a sensational performance of dance, mime, clowning, illusion and music. All events are scheduled for 7 P.M. performances and we extend a hearty invitation to all, but please register by calling 842-1080 since seating is limited.

The Mohawk Valley Library Association is providing a variety of special projects to the library this year.  We are participating in a project to provide materials and programs to the agricultural community and to lend heightened  public awareness about food consumerism.  Two additional projects are developing.  We will soon receive materials to help with literacy tutoring for adults with learning differences.  We are also receiving readers advisory training in assisting adult users in finding library materials to meet their specific reading needs.

Esther Dean

(Taken from the FOL April 2002 Newsletter)



General Info:

The mission of the Amsterdam Free Library is to offer the community access to and assistance in the use of the broadest possible selection of recorded knowledge. It is to assist patrons with informational, business, professional, and recreational needs in a diverse number of formats.

The Amsterdam Free Library offers a wide array of services and materials including access to over 45,000 items, 70 magazine and 7 daily newspapers. Adult and children's programs are carried on throughout the year highlighted by the summer reading program. Reference services are available both in print and electronic formats.

Public access to the Internet, an automated circulation system and public access computers are included among our technology services.

The Library actively fosters adult literacy programs through the Literacy Program of Montgomery County.



History Info:

The Amsterdam Free Library stands at the comer of Church Street and Rt. 5. The building was opened to the public on November 3, 1903. It was built by Masonic craftsmen with funds provided by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The wing at the rear of the library was added in the year 1980.

The Library began as a literary society back in the early 1800's. It became incorporated in the year 1891 and was named the Amsterdam Library Association. Its first president was Dr. William Robb. The first treasurer was David Cady. Those men, along with Andrew Carnegie, are memorialized by valuable plaques placed in the vestibule a few months after the building was opened. After Robb's death in 1898, S.H. French was elected as his replacement, and it was his letter to Andrew Carnegie that was truly the beginning of the Amsterdam Free Library as we know it today.

Carnegie sent a reply stating, "Responding to your communication, if the City of Amsterdam will pledge itself to support a Free Library and provide a suitable site, I will be glad to furnish $25,000 to erect a Free Public Library building". And so, the name was changed to the Amsterdam Free Library, a lot was purchased, and the building erected.

Solid oak woodwork is found throughout the building, from the bookshelves, to the doors and stairways, and even into the basement. Another distinguishing feature of the building is its arched entryways. Even the old radiators are decorative, and still operational.

The Library is a museum dedicated to its history in many ways. Along with the plaques in the vestibule, portraits of the founding fathers, Robb, French, and his son, Charles E. French, grace the walls at the front of the building. The French family held the presidency of the library from 1898 through 1964, a real dynasty. At the helm from 1965 through 1981 was Edward J. Kelly, who was responsible for the addition of the rear wing 1980. Another portrait, of Clementine Mazzone, looks over the reference room. She was a dedicated director, serving the library for 32 year before her death in 1986. There is a photo of the ground breaking ceremony in 1902, and the original charter is framed and displayed. Also on display throughout the Library are several Native American prints from the collection of the late Tom Constantino. Numerous sculptures can be found perched atop bookshelves as a tribute to the arts, including Rip Van Winkle on the Mountain, and The Council of War, by famous sculptor John Rogers, whose works were very popular in the late 1800s. Also visible atop the shelves are the works of a more contemporary artist who resides in our community, Jonah Jacob. His work is recognized world wide as an example of unique form and technique, and he is sometime regarded as a provocateur. The black forms he donated are elegantly crafted from common trash bags only. In the lobby are photographs of his other works in this genre (material: garbage bags). You may have also seen these very same works on television in commercials for Glad bags and plastic wrap, before he filed a cease and desist. The library achieved some notariety as a result, which had only benefitted our ability to fundraise.

A local history collection is on display in glass cases on the main floor, and there are many other very old local and regional books and references in the basement as well.

A quote made by S.H. French at the ceremony laying the cornerstone of the building was quite interesting, and profoundly true, even today. "It is fitting that this building should find its place among the homes of the city... The whir of spindle and wheel will penetrate even the rooms' set apart to reading and meditation, a constant reminder of the fact that thought and action must be inseparable. The toiler, not the idler, is the one for whom libraries are founded."



Library Staff:
Jane Getty  
Library Staff
Gary Arndt Miriam DeLaCruz
Flora Iannotti Kathy Hewitt
Nicole Hemsley Nick Lazarou
Sharon Madej Pam Ruf
Sylvia Salerno Maribeth Sizemore
Mary Vertucci

The Amsterdam  Free Library
is proud to offer patrons a
Wi-Fi (Wireless Internet) Connection when visiting
the library.

John Sierzega


Collection Info:

Resources Available

  • Downloadable Audio books for mp3 player
  • 43.000+ Books
  • 104+ Magazines
  • 7 Daily and Sunday newspapers
  • The Recorder on microfilm 1988 - Present
  • DVD's, Videos & Audio books
  • Large Print books
  • Local History & Civil War collections
  • Employment & Job Information Center
  • Reference—Print and Electronic Resources

Services Offered

  • Automated Circulation System & Card Catalog
  • Computers for Public Use
  • Internet for Public Access, including wireless
  • Montgomery County Literacy Program:
  • English as a Second Language
  • High School Equivalency
  • Federal & State Income Tax Forms
  • Microfilm Reader / Printer
  • Parking Lot Drop Box
  • Handicapped Access
  • Inter-library Loan
  • Photocopier
  • Programs for Adults & Children

The Children's Library
A Warm and Welcoming World...

  • 10,000+ Books
  • Story Times
  • A Listening Center
  • 50+ Videos
  • 50+ Audio Books
  • A Young Adult Center
  • 15+ Magazines
  • School Class Visits
  • Summer Reading Program
  • Reference Resources
  • Newberry and Caldecott Award Books