The first library was organized in Gloversville in 1803 and called the Farmer's Library. In 1853, the Young Ladies Library Association was established and the first books purchased in 1855. Gentlemen were allowed to become honorary members by paying 25 cents a year. This enabled them to attend the monthly socials and escort the young ladies home.
In 1873, a new organization called the Young People's Library absorbed the older group. This organization exerted a great deal of influence in the community, but because no trained librarian was on hand, old books wore out or disappeared, and few new ones were purchased.
The first full service library in Gloversville was the Levi Parsons Library of Gloversville and Kingsboro established in 1880 thanks to a generous donation by Judge Levi Parsons, a native of the Village of Kingsboro. The Levi Parsons Library was a subscription library, however, and not everyone could afford to pay an annual membership. After 8 years the Library was no longer financially sound. $4,000 was raised from a public appeal and the Library was reincorporated as a free association library.
The Gloversville Free Library was supported with funding from the community instead of individual subscriptions. This model was worked until 2001 when the City of Gloversville’s annual contribution was reduced and eventually eliminated. To keep the Library open, a public vote was held to reincorporate the Library as a school district public library, expand its official service area, and establish an annual tax levy that is voted on by the community. In July 2005, the library became the Gloversville Public Library.
The early versions of the Library were located above various businesses on South Main Street. In 1903, the Board of Directors approached Andrew Carnegie and requested support from his library building program to erect a permanent home for library services in the community. After initially offering $25,000, Mr. Carnegie eventually agreed to a donation of $50,000. An additional $14,000 was raised by the community to purchase the property located at the corner of East Fulton and Fremont streets. Construction on the 1904 Beaux Arts building began in June 1904 and the building was opened to the public in December 1905.
While updated over time to freshened paint and update furnishings, very little was done to the building over the next century. The skylight was seal up because it leaked, the original front vestibule and windows were replaced in the 1970’s for energy efficiency reasons, and the roof was replaced periodically. By the mid 2000’s the need for a full renovation was evident. The windows and roof needed to be replaced again, the building lacked handicap access, there was no air conditioning, and the steam piping of the original heating system was corroding from the inside out.
A campaign was launched in 2013 and raised $9.2 millions through grants and donations. Renovations took place from spring 2017 through fall 2018. During this time, library services were offered in a temporary location on West Fulton Street. Now all four levels of the building are available for public service, the Youth Center has an entire floor, and the Library provides four accessible meeting rooms available to the community.