The Avon Free Library

Avon, NY has had a public library (albeit informal) since 1805. Efforts to create a more formalized library began on January 5, 1914 with a meeting of the Avon Library Committee. Six trustees were elected to form the Board of Trustees, which in turn elected officers, approved a constitution and by-laws, and appointed various committees. By March, they had raised $82 of the $100 needed to apply for a charter. A room was rented for $4 a month at the Babcock Building (west side of Genesee St. in the business section). And thus, the oldest free library in Livingston County was established.

It officially opened in December of 1914. All persons living in the town of Avon and over the age of 12 could borrow two books and renew them for two weeks, if they were not reserved. Annie Pierpont served as the librarian, voluntarily, and “was assisted by a large number of volunteers.”

The library continued to grow and expand and, in 1916, the Board of Trustees filed for a temporary five-year charter with the State Education Department. The library also received a list of books recommended by the state and $100 in matching funds from the state to buy books. In 1917, a once a week Story Hour was begun and on December 5, 1918, Miss Minnie Hocmer was appointed Librarian at $3.00 per week.

The application for the absolute charter was approved by the state on January 24, 1921 and the library officially became the Avon Free Association Library with “all the powers, privileges, and duties” vested in the Board.

On December 23, 1924, the library was moved to the Boorman house at 143 Genesee Street (present site of library). Aaron Barber owned the house and rented it to the library for $15.00 a month. He devoted himself to the community and was president of the Avon Bank, Town Supervisor, and a member of the Library Advisory Board. Upon his death in 1925 at the age of 89, he left $45,000 in his will to build a new library building on the site of the Boorman house and another $15,000 in a trust fund to maintain the building. The present library is a lasting memorial to Aaron Barber, a “citizen of sterling worth.”

On September 15, 1927 Miss Pierpont, one of the original members of the Library Board, laid the cornerstone for the new building. It contains a photograph of Aaron Barber, coins, stamps, and other historical papers. The library opened with a gala affair on April 12, 1928. Aaron Barber’s dream of a beautiful library building had come true. In his honor, it is named the Barber Memorial Building. Pictures of Aaron Barber and his wife, Caroline, can be seen in the library where a portrait of Aaron Barber hangs over the fireplace mantel.

Photo courtesy of Hailey Fowler