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Library History

Library History

This brief history of the library comes from a pamphlet in our local history section!  

"The Walworth-Seely Public Library first opened its door as the Walworth Reading Center as an experiment under the co-sponsorship of the of the Wayne County Library Board and the Walworth Chamber of Commerce on January 27, 1960.

The Wayne County Library Board offered all the regular services given a member library including inter-library loan, rotating collections, professional library consultation, etc. Certainly, the Wayne County Library Board deserves a vote of thanks; for each time a special grant was made to the member libraries, Walworth was included. In this way, the Walworth Reading Center was able to start a reference collection consisting of a complete set of the World Book Encyclopedias and several single volume encyclopedias on various subjects. The non-fiction section of the library in all divisions was increased when a special grant was given for "How to" books. This, too, was a wonderful help for "How to" developed into a large and varied group of books.

Certainly the co-sponsor Walworth-Chamber of Commerce, deserves a generous vote of thanks for they supplied the rest of the necessities.

Mrs. Frieda Leisten, the first volunteer librarian, willingly gave her time for a little more than a year. Other members of the volunteer staff of the Reading Center are Lura Radder, Marguerite Traugott, Shirley Huntley, Jay Taber, and Lorraine Finley. We hope the enjoyment of the work and fulfillment of a dream compensated them for their loyalty. Also many students helped by doing odd jobs.


After a two year trial, it was felt the result showed that a library would be successful in Walworth. So on October 5, 1961, an appeal was made to the Town Board to establish a Walworth Public Library. The Town Board unanimously voted to establish the Walworth-Seely Public Library, a township library and appointed the first Board of Trustees- Ethel Henning- Lincoln; Doris Gardner and Esther Westenberg- West Walworth; Lorraine Finley and Jay Taber- Walworth.

From the first organizational meeting of the Board until the present time, this group has worked on the many phases of establishing a new unit including applying for a charter from the New York State Regents Board (Received February 1962), applying to the Wayne County Library System for membership(Application accepted in March 1962), writing by-laws, hiring a librarian, working out library hours, ordering the initial book order, etc.

This history of the Walworth-Seely Public Library thus becomes part of the history of Walworth Township. It is the earnest wish of all that this library will continue to live and to grow." 

The Original Library Building

The original building for the Walworth-Seely Public Library was donated by Miss Bessie M. Seely, Jay Seely's daughter.


"Jay Seely purchased the building and land from the descendants of Jones Findley, April 1, 1909. 

Checking through records, it was impossible to find exactly when the building was erected, but it was sometime after 1874 and before 1904. 

It is reasonable to believe that Julian Findley built it as perhaps a carpenter shop. Then at one time it was used to dry the waste material from the dry house nearby. 

The original part of the building is the new library and the room above. During Mr. Seely's ownership the library room was his workshop. When you visit the library look at the picture over the front door and you will see Mr. Seely in his shop with all his tools and the forge.

When Mrs. Seely died in 1930, Mr. Seely built the rear part of  the building and moved into it, 1931. The Reading Center room used to be Mr. Seely's living quarters. It might be interest to not here that the windows in the addition, at least downstairs, are windows from the Walworth Academy. The foundation stones are from the evaporator foundation Mr. Seely had just before World War I. 

It is hoped that once again the Walworth Citizens, young and old, will come to this building in the same spirit as yesteryear, to learn and to experience the joy of increasing ones knowledge in a friendly atmosphere."

The library moved into its current space in the Walworth Town Hall upon its completion in 1992.

Who Was Jay S. Seely?

"The public library of the Walworth Township is dedicated to the memory of Jay S. Seely, inventor, plumber, tinsmith, musician, and respected citizen of our community. Jay S. Seely was born December 25, 1853 at Green's Corners (on the west edge of Sodus Village). He came to Walworth from Jordan, New York (near Syracuse-east of Weedsport) about the turn of the century. He worked with Dr. Rosenberger on his acetylene gas engine, which was used for illuminating homes. This engine was installed in many homes in the area and I am told that the last engine in the Walworth Methodist Church before electricity was the one Jay Seely had installed.

Many people remember Mr. Seely coming to their home to tune their piano. And how the air was soon filled with beautiful melodies when he played his fiddle.

It is a little difficult to describe this man. Perhaps this four line verse poem Memories by Joe Finley, will so it:

Remember our inventive tinsmith

Who gave us much and really

Will never be forgotten friends

The lovable Jay Seely 

Or a quote from a letter written by a friend, D.O Chamberlayne after Mr. Seely's death September 12, 1943 at the age of ninety years. 

"One couldn't say he was one of the common people. He was uncommon, but the Lord must have loved him just the same. He brought a lot of Sunshine into the world and scattered it freely along his way."

Perhaps it can be summed up saying he was an inventive man that knew how to enjoy life and he shared this enjoyment with those about him."  

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