History of the Library
Coram Public Library - 1953
The Longwood Public Library began in a one room building that was formerly the Coram School. Mrs. Evelyn Holschuh Brown is credited as the library founder. A provisional charter to establish library services was granted in June 1953. Originally called the "Coram Public Library", the library opened its doors in the little school house on November 24, 1953. During the first year the library struggled to operate with a volunteer staff and a budget of $1,000. Although the Library was open for only 8 hours per week and contained only 250 donated books, annual circulation exceeded 1,000 items.
By 1958, the Coram Public Library had increased its hours from 8 to 16 per week. The collection had grown to 2,069 books and the circulation was 2,591. In 1959, six local school districts were centralized and the library became known as the "Middle Island Central Public Library". Consequently, the library's area of service was expanded to 54 square miles including the communities of Middle Island, Ridge, Yaphank, Lake Panamoka, Coram, Gordon Heights, North Medford and North Shirley.
Middle Island Public Library - 1966
By 1966, the collection had grown to 9,058 volumes and the tiny one-room schoolhouse, built in 1900, became impossibly crowded with books and furniture! Fortunately, the Middle Island School Board made available the use of an empty school building on Main Street in Yaphank. Again the library found itself in a former school. Although the new facility was larger, it was not conveniently located for all the communities it served.
Middle Island Public Library - 1971
In order to have a much better location, the library rented space in the former Billy Blake Shopping Center on Middle Country Road in Middle Island (now WalMart) and opened its new 3,800 square foot facility at the northeast corner of the store on December 2, 1971.
Use of the library increased dramatically with circulation nearly doubling from 31,995 to 57,274 in 1972. However, the poor condition of the Billy Blake building soon became apparent. Heating, plumbing problems and roof leaks were everyday occurrences. This state of disrepair continued. The Billy Blake Company declared bankruptcy on October 7, 1973 voiding the library's rental agreement.
That same year however, Anchor Properties, the successor to the bankrupt Billy Blake, continued to lease space to the library. In 1976 Anchor informed the Library that our space was to be a branch of the Anchor Savings Bank. As a result, the Library had no choice but to make a lateral move within the same building.
An architect was retained to design and supervise the renovation of the larger adjacent quarters. Renovations were completed by 1978 and library operations continued without interruption during this move.
The Billy Blake complex was purchased from Anchor Properties by a new owner in April 1982 and the Library continued leasing the same space.
In 1985, the Library Board of Trustees resolved to acquire a site for the district's first permanent library building and began searching for a suitable location. Working with an architect to meet both current and future building needs, on April 16, 1986, the Board of Trustees finalized its plan to purchase land and construct a new library at the southwest corner of Middle Country Road and Old Yaphank Road in Middle Island. This proposal was overwhelmingly approved by a community vote of 1360 to 200.
The Library Board broke ground for the new facility on March 19, 1987 and the general contractor began construction immediately. As the new building progressed through 1987 and 1988, conditions in the Billy Blake building continued to deteriorate. People still talk about trying to find books under the plastic which served as protection from falling ceiling tiles.
On July 1, 1987 the library's name was changed to Longwood Public Library to reflect its role serving the entire school district population.
Longwood Public Library - 1988
On November 3, 1988 the first permanent library structure in the community's history was opened to the public.
Since 1988, the library has continued to grow, adding new materials, programs and services. From its humble beginnings in Coram to the state of the art facility in Middle Island, the Longwood Public Library continues as a community center.
Written by Ruth Goetz [ca 1988], updated by Suzanne Johnson , .