In 1879, the year Thomas Edison invented the incandescent electric light, the little farming community of Chappaqua had a small library with approximately 475 books. It was located in part of a building at the end of King Street near the railroad tracks.
The first recorded collection contained the works of Bronte, Dickens, Scott, Melville, Hawthorne, Irving, Eliot, Cooper, some modern European writers, the Greek and Roman classics, as well as books on farming, temperance, and science.
In the spring of 1922, a group of women organized and found space in Lou Kopp's Coal and Feed Store, located across the tracks on King Street and near the current northbound entrance to the Saw Mill River Parkway. The library was open two afternoons a week. Inside there were a few long tables painted black, several Windsor chairs painted turquoise, and six low bookcases. By the end of the year, there were 2,683 volumes on the shelves, mostly gathered from people's attics and barns.
By 1928, the community was convinced the library needed a building of its own to hold the ever-growing collection, then over 5,300 volumes, as well as the many community members who came to browse. The community raised the $20,000 needed by public subscriptions. The plans were drawn by Alfred Bussell and are believed to have been executed by Samuel Horsfall, neither of whom would accept a penny for their work.
In 1930, the new library was opened on Senter Street, in what is now the Community Center. There was a fireplace to greet the patrons and a "real" children's room. An addition was made to that building in 1957. Called "the wing", it was larger than the original building.
By 1970, it was agreed that a new and larger building was needed. The community voted to change from a Free Association Library to a School District Library, which would allow the approval of a bond issue to pay for a new library.
After a long search and the rejection of several locations, the Grunfelds donated their property on South Greeley Avenue for the explicit use of a new library building. The building was designed by Chappaqua resident Philip M. Chu and opened in December, 1978.
In 1986, a children's program room was added to accommodate the ever growing number of children's programs and small group meetings. The year 2006 saw the expansion of the front of the library and the rearrangement of a portion of the collection and service areas.
That small farming village is now a vibrant community of a population over 17, 000. The library collection is over 134,000 items and offers a large variety of programs for families, children and adults.
Mrs. Elise Hewitt Bayley 1922
Mrs. Maida Gedney Mills 1925
Miss Bernice Merritt 1944
Margarete Handley 1950
Alice W. Grafflin 1966
Doris B. Lowenfels 1973
Mark P. Hasskarl 1984
Pamela Thornton 2007