The Webster Public Library has long been an invaluable community asset. So it’s hard to imagine there was a time when Webster had no library at all.
According to Webster Through the Years by Esther Dunn (1971), the first Webster library was established in 1881 by a group called the Literary Society. Mary Jane Phillips kept the books in her home on Main St. in the village, just west of what is now the Cobblestone on Main restaurant. Society members, who paid $1.20 annual dues, were the only ones who could check out books.
Between 1881 and 1889, the library moved twice, first to a storefront on West Main Street, and then to 11 South Ave., in the building now occupied by B3 Beauty.
Soon afterwards, community support for a town library waned. In 1894, the library was disbanded, and for almost the next 30 years, Webster had no library at all
Then, in 1923, the Monroe County Traveling Library was established. It traveled to 222 stops about every six weeks. In Webster, the principal stations were at Dewitt and Bay roads, Vosburg and Lake roads, Forest Lawn, Nine Mile Point, Union Hill, Hard and Ridge roads, West Webster, and all the schools.
Finally, in 1929 the first Webster public library was officially established at the new Webster High School (now Spry Middle School). It had 657 books, 265 borrowers and a circulation of 6,246.
The library has moved several times since those early days, first to the Reitz Building on West Main, then to Webster Town Hall, and finally to its current location in Webster Plaza. It’s also grown – a lot. Today, the Webster Public Library has more than 260,000 items in its collection, 34,000 borrowers, and circulates about 334,000 items a year.
The Webster Museum, located at 18 Lapham Park in the Village of Webster, is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Visit the website at webstermuseum.org for more about Webster’s history.