Little Falls is located in the Mohawk Valley. It is the only city in Herkimer County. As of 2020, the population is 4,605. Demographics from the 2020 census show that 23.8% of the population is under the age of eighteen, and 27.1 % of the population is over the age of 60. Median household income is $42,311 and 24% of the residents are below the poverty line.
In recent years, the number of citizens who are economically disadvantaged has risen. The library is more important to the community than ever before, because we provide access to books, periodicals, wireless internet and computers – all of which our average patron cannot afford to purchase.
The Little Falls Public Library is located on the corner of Main Street and Waverly Place. It is a beautiful Victorian house that was built between 1876 and 1878 in what is commonly known as the “Second Empire Style.” It is made of brick and cut stone (most probably limestone), and features three stories with a mansard roof and dormers, with iron roof trim.
The man who built the house was Frank Bramer (b. 1834, d.1888). He was the manager of the Warrior Mowing Machine Company. His daughter Nellie (b. 1864, d. 1906) married Rollin H. Smith (b.1838, d.1911). Upon the death of both her parents, Nellie inherited the house. When Nellie died, Rollin became the sole inheritor of his wife’s property. He decided that upon his death, he wanted to donate this property to the City of Little Falls to become the public library. In the will dated October 1910, Judge Smith gave his house to the city, provided $10,000 per year for maintenance and upkeep of the property, and $2,000 per year for alterations. He also donated his own private library collection. In addition, he left behind for the public’s enjoyment his wife’s extensive collection of Anglo-American china, an extensive art collection he and his wife accumulated during their marriage, and all furnishings left after the settlement of his estate, and any surplus monies to be invested for the support of the new library.
The Little Falls Public Library opened in January 1912, with Miss Mabel E. Richards as the sole librarian, at a salary of $37.50 per month. As time went by, the Library Board of Directors increased her salary and added additional staff.
Over the years, the library has seen many renovations and additions. The first major redecoration of the house was undertaken in 1927. A major renovation during the early 1980s resulted in a 2-story extension on the Waverly Place side of the building to house the adult book section and new library entrance. At the same time a Community Room was added to the west side of the building, providing a place for large gatherings and entertainments, and an elevator was installed to reach the second floor. In 2020, renovations included new interior decorating, furniture and electrical furnishings.
THE LIBRARY TODAY
The Library is governed by a six member board. The mayor acts as an ex-officio member. The library receives funding from the Little Falls City School district and Herkimer County.
Currently, the library has one full-time and seven part time employees.
The library is open 58 hours per week from fall through spring. During the summer, hours are reduced to 52 by closing on Saturdays.
COLLECTIONS / CIRCULATION
The library’s holdings total 38,053 print items and 27,498 electronic items.
Total circulation for FY 2020 was 26,693. Interlibrary loans totaled 7944. These numbers are unusually low, due to Covid-19 closures.
The Little Falls Public Library is a member of the MidYork library system and the CLRC.
In the spring of 2021, the library conducted a survey, in order to better understand which of our services are most valued by our patrons.
Respondents were asked to rate services as very important, somewhat important, not important or N/A.
Analysis of the data revealed that:
99 % of respondents said that borrowing books is important. 93% said that borrowing books was very important.
85 % of respondents said that interlibrary loan is important
72 % of respondents said that programs are important
61 % of respondents said that borrowing DVDs is important
All of the library’s services were considered important by a majority of the respondents.
Based on the survey, we will continue to direct the majority of our funds towards providing our patrons with books.
Many libraries are currently reducing the number of DVDs that they purchase, because streaming services are increasing in popularity nationwide. However, since a majority of our patrons still consider DVDs to be important, DVD purchases will continue in the immediate future.
Programming will be diversified. The library currently offers programs that are popular with children and senior citizens. Additional programs, geared towards teens and adults will be offered.
The purpose of the library is to offer the citizens of Little Falls access to information, free of cost and without bias.
We strive to become an integral part of our community by promoting lifelong learning and creativity, and by providing a warm and welcoming place to interact.
The role of public libraries is changing rapidly. The following goals are not fixed; each will be re-evaluated yearly and appropriately amended.
Goal 1) To maintain and improve the facility, and provide accessible, functional and welcoming spaces for community meetings and individual study.
To meet this goal, a building committee will be formed. The committee will assess the physical plant and create a list of major projects, prioritizing the most critical. The committee will also conduct a yearly audit of furniture, fixtures and equipment. Public and staff spaces will be redesigned in response to evolving needs. A potential outcome is increased usage of the library as a co-working and conference host.
Goal 2) To offer a broad range of programs that encourage creativity and foster community
We will host early literacy programs that promote vocabulary acquisition, phonological awareness and letter knowledge. We will produce adult literacy programs that assist participants in attaining basic reading, writing and math competence. Various platforms will be utilized in delivering virtual programming to homeschoolers and homebound persons. A possible outcome in increased program attendance.
Goal 3) To curate dynamic collections in a variety of formats, in response to public demand
We will acquire high interest fiction and DVDs, and reliable, authenticated sources of factual information. Circulation statistics will inform purchasing decisions. The majority of our funds will be spent on expanding our core collections. A portion of the budget will go towards seeding new, non-traditional collections. Long-term collection space needs will be identified. Materials that are in poor physical condition will be weeded on an ongoing basis. A possible outcome is increased circulation and customer satisfaction.
Goal 4) To constantly improve the skills and increase the knowledge of staff members
The library will host in-house mandatory training sessions. Staff participation in professional development webinars and seminars offered by the library system will be encouraged. In depth descriptions of volunteer opportunities will be developed. A possible outcome is the long term retention of efficient, invested staff and volunteers.
Goal 5) To increase awareness of the library’s services through outreach
We will seek to establish partnerships with other local organizations. Staff / volunteers will represent the library at community events. Reading materials will be placed at alternate locations within our service area. If possible, we will deliver materials to homebound patrons. In order to raise public awareness of our services, we will initiate a comprehensive marketing plan. The library’s social media presence will be diversified. A potential outcome is increased library visits.