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Rye Free Reading Room Marks Its 100th Birthday

Families congregate on the village green for the 100th birthday party for the Rye Free Reading Room.
Families congregate on the village green for the 100th birthday party for the Rye Free Reading Room. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

RYE, N.Y. -- Children and families gathered on the Village Green Saturday to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Rye Free Reading Room with balloon animals, a petting zoo, crafts and music.

"We're really excited to see the community come out and celebrate the library with us," said Chris Shoemaker, the director of the library.

Rye's first library was established in 1884 and was housed in the Purdy Cottage on Purchase Street. The present location by the Village Green opened in 1913. The site was donated by Sarah Parsons, and the building was constructed through community donations. During World War I, the building was used as a Red Cross headquarters and hosted programs dedicated to war relief.

Shoemaker's personal history with the Rye Free Reading Room is still relatively new, having been named the director in June.

"I think it's a perfect time to join the library team. We're working to set the direction for what the Rye Free Reading Room can be for the next 100 years," he said.

During the birthday party kids were thrilled at the chance to pet animals like a baby kangaroo, a crocodile, a tortoise, goats and rabbits. They colored birthday cards for the library, and danced along to the music of the Groove Band.

"One hundred years ago the library was still very active in children's programs and reading activities," said Shoemaker. "There were musical celebrations. Maybe not quite as rock and roll, but there would be bagpipes and chamber music."

The library will be continuing to celebrate its history and the history of Rye throughout the year. In October there will be a open house with Rye authors, families will get the chance to play board games from 100 years ago, and the library will begin compiling the Top 100 Books of Rye.

"My goal is to continue to be the destination for lifelong learning and unique experiences for the community," Shoemaker said. "We will always be there for them and able to supply information and opportunities. We will meet them wherever they happen to be: within our walls, out in the community, or beyond."

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