HISTORY OF THE WIMODAUGHSIAN FREE LIBRARY
The Wimodaughsian Free Library was formed in 1892 when a group of women in the Village of Canisteo decided to form a library. They applied for and received a charter from the State of New York on November 4, 1897. The name is not the name of a wealthy benefactor nor the person who owned property, but is comprised of the words Wives, Mothers, Daughters and Sisters, and is pronounced Whim-ah-DOH-see-un. The purpose of the group was to improve literary work, social enjoyment, and the maintenance of a public library.
Since the library obtained its charter it has been relocated several times. At first it was housed on the second floor of the Allison Building (now known as the Steuben Trust Building). As the collections of books and number of patrons grew, the library was moved to the Powell-Linderman Building, also known as the Canisteo House in 1908. In 1911 it was moved to the Walter Laine Building, which was located next to the Towne Talk bakery. It was moved again in 1924 to the Canisteo Grange Building on South Main Street when plans to build a library building fell through, but finally received its own building in 1933 at the current house at 19 West Main Street. The Masonic Lodge sold the library the N.C. Taylor House for $4,000.00.
Over the years many improvements have been made as the Trustees try to maintain the Victorian décor of the building. Wainscoted ceilings, fireplaces, and ornate woodwork can be found throughout. In the 1990’s a new circulation desk was built, and a handicap-accessible restroom added. The Children’s Room was relocated, redecorated and dedicated to Elizabeth Davidsen in 2004 thanks to generous donations from her family and friends. The second floor, closed off with a trap door for many years, has been renovated and includes a Biography Room, a Meeting Room, and a Young Adult Room. The second floor is also accessible by a lift.
In April 2002 The Wimodaughsian Free Library expanded its charter area to serve the Town of Canisteo as well as the Village. After a public vote in 2002 the funding for the library comes from the taxpayers of the Canisteo-Greenwood School District. Funds also come from Steuben County and New York State. Since this time the library has added new bookshelves, carpeting and repairs to the walls and the ornate tine ceilings. There has also been a new roof added, a handicapped ramp, and a handicap-accessible door.
Currently the Wimodaughsian Free Library is open 35 hours a week and is a member of the Southern Tier Library System. With help from community volunteers the library continues to provide free access to library collections and services for the community of Canisteo.