90 Years Strong

BUSTI – Throughout the majority of the last century in Busti, the Hazeltine Public Library has been a mainstay.

The library celebrated 90 years of serving the community on Tuesday with an open house, featuring John Siggins, a local historical speaker, and musical entertainment by Goose Creek.

The Hazeltine Public Library was officially chartered in 1924, made possible by gifts from Charles Benjamin Reed Hazeltine and from the estate of Albert Jones, which was left to his daughter, Fanny Jones.

According to Siggins, the library’s history reaches far beyond its 1924 charter.

Pardon Hazeltine, born in 1801, settled in Busti. He was town supervisor from 1836-39, and town clerk from 1835-38. In 1840, he moved to Worcester, Mass, where he died on March 12, 1844.

His son Charles Benjamin Reed, born on Jan. 23, 1843, secured a job as secretary for the Mellin Food Company.

Hazeltine wanted $5,000 of his money earned as secretary to be used toward books for a library in Busti, in memory of his father.

The library was to be located as close as possible to the five corners and the town was to provide $200 per year for administration and a building for the books. As a Regents Library, all books purchased with the funds would require the state Board of Regents’ approval.

In 1914, the town board voted and approved setting aside $200 per year in accordance with Hazeltine’s wishes.

“This was the incident that made the library possible,” Siggins said. “In 1922, the library received its preliminary charter.”

As the library was housed in the Town Hall building at the time of its official chartering in 1924, the board supervised the construction of a new library building in 1934.

According to Siggins, Jones is often overlooked when considering the library’s history.

“She was a Busti schoolteacher … who was unmarried,” Siggins said. “We should all be as community -spirited as Fanny Jones.”

After Jones’ younger sister died in a fire at the Fredonia Normal School, Jones took her responsibilities to her students and her parents seriously.

“I think that (the tragedy) literally changed history,” Siggins said.

When Jones’ parents died, she elected to put their estate toward the library.

Siggins also noted his personal connection to the library – his grandmother and grandfather were connected to individuals involved with the library’s creation. To commemorate Tuesday’s event, Siggins wore a top hat that his grandmother had purchased for his grandfather, which his grandfather wore to the library many decades ago.

While speaking, Siggins mentioned the names of many local individuals who supported the library throughout their lives and honored those who contributed as donors or librarians.

“I look for great things from the Hazeltine Library,” said Siggins, noting the library’s involvement with the Busti Historical Society in preserving historical artifacts. “It’s a space that will be good for another 90 years.”

In 1975, an addition was made to the building, and in 2004, the renovation of the building was completed to transform the library facility into its current atmosphere.

Tracy Hewitt, library director, reminded attendees about the annual book and bake sale. The book sale is scheduled for Saturday, July 26, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the bake sale is on the same day, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, or until the baked goods are sold out.

The mission of the library is to provide materials and services which will help community residents obtain information meeting their personal, educational and cultural information needs. The library serves as a center for learning and enrichment for all.

For more information about the library, visit www.cclslib.org/busti/index.html.