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History of the Clifton Public Library

Established in 1903 by a public vote, the Clifton Public Library has had an unusual history, to say the least. According to page 74 of Clifton Centennial, a 1957 publication written by Lily Brandt and the Historical Committee:
















Library files include copies of source materials related to the above summary. Unfortunately the copies are, in many cases, both handwritten and undated. One such copy of village minutes that were approved on May 4th, 1903, give the final tally for the vote to approve the public library. Capitalization and punctuation in the the following quote reflect the actual handwritten minutes recorded by then Village Clerk J. D. Raboin:





Vote counts establishing the public library were also recorded in the local paper, The Comet.


Village Ordinance No. 38 from the same year shows that beginning May 1, 1903, a total of $150.00 was appropriated for the “Library Fund.”

Although the library existed in some form through the 1960s, it seems to have disappeared prior to the 1970s. No official vote was ever held to disband the library. As a taxing body the Clifton Public Library was simply and unofficially forgotten.

Research conducted in 1994 discovered the historical provenance of the tax-based library, resurrecting the library’s taxing status in 1996 and allowing the library to become a full member of a regional library system.

In 2010, Library Director Andrew Winkel compiled a presentation for the Village of Clifton Board of Trustees explaining library history and characteristics.

At a meeting held February 1, 1902, a motion was made that steps be taken to start a public library. A canvas of the town was made for books and an effort was made to keep the people of the town interested in the project. They accepted the use of a building offered by Miss Mamie Sanderson, provided it with furniture, and opened a public library four hours each Saturday afternoon, with Miss Sanderson acting as librarian. The project was successful and a petition was presented to the town board that the town accept the library. The following election, the petition was voted upon and carried, and the library became the property of the Village of Clifton.

The community reported that at an Election held in the Henrotin building on Tuesday April 21st 1903… The proposition shall the Village of Clifton accept and maintain the Public Library Received sixty seven votes in favor and Forty Four against.

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