A Brief History of the Library
The BeginningOur library was opened December 5, 1891. Melville Dewey, the secretary of the library department at the State University of New York, signed the Certificate of Registry for the library, dated February 14, 1896.
The library was named after Benjamin F. Bancroft, banker and benefactor of the community in the mid-to-late 19th century.
The Starting Collection
Ornithology was popular in early 20th century Salem. The infamous John James Audubon had a granddaughter who lived in Salem. Marie R. Audubon lived in Salem from 1890 to 1925. In 1897, she published her grandfathers' journals, which are still available today in the library's Audubon Collection.
The fire of 1976
The 1976 fire was later determined to have been caused by an electrical fault.
The modern library
The library was granted a provisional charter by the Board of Regents of the Education Department of the State of New York on December 13, 2011, and an absolute charter on March 12, 2013.
With the dissolution of the Village of Salem into the Town of Salem on March 31, 2015, the Bancroft Library was rechartered as a town municipal library (formerly, it had been chartered as a village library). The library board is currently in the process of applying for an absolute charter from the State of New York.