One cannot help but reflect on how fortunate we are here in Middleport to have such a great little library to serve the residents of the Royalton Hartland area. Even our earliest residents, around the time of the building of the Erie Canal in 1823, had the services of the E & E Wilcox Encyclopedia of Albany, which served as a floating library that provided books for the people living along the canal. Many attempts to establish a formal library came and went between 1831 and the early 1900’s. Finally, a group of local women, known as the Middleport Study Club, stepped up in 1928 and formed the Middleport Free Library.
Under the direction of this group, a small reading room was opened in the Universalist Church Parish Hall in January of 1929. Donated books were collected by the Boy Scouts and a benefit show at the local theater raised funds which made it possible for the group to open the door of the newly organized library. After some help from the State Education Department in Albany, which helped to set up records and did the cataloging of books, the library’s charter was issued on July 19, 1929.
With a growing supply of books which soon reached some 6,000 volumes, the library made several more moves to larger quarters until the Library Association received the gift of the Kimball property on Vernon Street from Mr. and Mrs. Roger Stilts. That building remains today to be the home of the Royalton Hartland Community Library and continues to serve the citizens of Middleport and the surrounding areas with not only books for their reading pleasure but much of the modern media we have come to expect from a library.
We are very grateful to the group of ladies who some 90 years ago saw an opportunity to enrich the lives of our community’s residents. We know they would be proud of how their idea has grown and given joy to so many generations of people throughout these last 90 years.
The Friends of the Royalton Hartland Community Library and the Library Board of Directors are starting to make plans to celebrate this momentous occasion in July of this year. We’ll be sure to let everyone know just as soon as plans are firmed up so everyone can come and help us celebrate.