Small Town Roots

031505_Divinity_Library_57It is a rather small building, a humble one story white house, but it is perhaps the most important building in our town. The Grafton Community Library is a historical site that holds some of the town’s most valuable treasures; but, many of Grafton’s residents have no idea the significance this small building really has. I have been going to the Grafton library for as long as I can remember, and throughout the years it has helped fuel my love for reading and has opened my life up to many new possibilities. Although it is a small library, there is something there for everyone. I began volunteering at the library during my senior year of high school and working there has showed me there is so much more to it. It provides community services that are above and beyond those of other libraries. When I began going to school at Catholic Central in 2005, the library served as an after school activity for me and my sister. I have seen firsthand how the staff at our library strives to make it a place where everyone is welcome and comfortable. The library’s patrons vary in age, come from all walks of life, and have diverse interests, yet, there is an activity that everyone can get involved in. There is a children’s sing along group, a quilting organization, a summer reading program, and even a meeting room available for community events. Spending time at the library has made me curious about its origin …
The Grafton Free Library was established in 1945 by the Grafton Community League, formally known as the Grafton Defense Council. The council served as a watch guard in the area and was the head of the civilian defense activities to help benefit the war effort. When these activities became negligible and the council was no longer needed, the council disbanded and became the Grafton Community League. This league supported all community activities, including the publishing of the town’s local newspaper, The Defender. Perhaps the most important special project of the group was the establishment of a community library. Initially the library was housed in the parsonage of the Methodist Church, and the library’s first collection was funded by donations from many residents including Granville Hicks, Grafton’s most famous resident and renowned literary critic. Granville was the leader of a small group that was fighting with the town in order to open up a community library. In 1946, Granville and his wife Dorothy became fed up with the board’s postponement of the creation of the library, and bought the small lot that the library is currently built on. The land was originally known as the Nathan Hakes House and the site of the very first Grafton town board meeting in 1807. The Grafton Defense Council was able to raise enough money to fund the library through food sales, talent shows, dances, bingo parties, plays, and many other events. Many hours of volunteer labor went into the building of our town library. When the library was completed in 1954, it was decided that it would be dedicated to the men and women who had served in World War II, including the three Grafton natives that had died in combat. Granville Hicks continued to be an active participant in all of the library’s volunteer operations, until in failing health, he moved to New Jersey in 1975.
In 1993 the Grafton Community League and the Grafton Free Library consolidated into the Grafton Community Library, and shortly after the library received its provisional charter from the New York State Board of Regents. At this time, the library also began a rehabilitation project that expanded the building to its current state and made it fully handicapped accessible. The rehabilitation project was funded by a grant from the Howard and Bush Foundation of Troy and matching funds from the New York State Education Department. On April 30, 1998, the library began circulating online and initiated an important step forward in the modernization of the library’s system.
Today the library has a collection with thousands of items and has completed renovations expanding from its original size. The collection is home to not only books, but also DVDs, VHS, audiotapes, CDs, and periodicals. In the past couple of years the library has upgraded their Internet to a wireless high-speed connection that is available for all members of the community twenty-four seven. Even though I do not visit my hometown library as much as I did in high school I will never forget my small town roots and the lessons that Grafton has taught me. The library has fueled my love for reading and exploring the world. I know that the Grafton Community Library and all the resources it has made available to me has had a major impact on my future and will continue to impact my life.

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