Jervis Public Library

One hundred years ago, on July 15, 1895, Jervis Public Library was ready to open its doors. The community was filled with expectation. Gala opening ceremonies were held outside, amidst fine, warm weather. Prominent citizens gave addresses; a chorus provided musical interludes. The ceremonies inaugurated what would become a major public information center in central New York. Well before the 10:00 a.m. opening the next day, a number of children had arrived to compete in a contest to see who would take out the first book.

The library was named after the prominent 19th century engineer John Bloomfield Jervis, who in his will provided funds to found the facility. Though originally scheduled for another site, it was soon decided that the Jervis homestead would make an ideal location. Melville Dewey, inventor of the famous Dewey Decimal System for classifying books, helped draft Jervis Library’s bylaws. New York State Legislative Act had incorporated the Jervis Library Association in 1894.

John B. Jervis grew up in Rome (then called Fort Stanwix) in the early 19th century. He attended local public schools and was interested in higher education, but his family could not afford it. When the construction of the Erie Canal began in 1817, he was hired as an axman. While working on this job he received an informal education as a civil engineer. By 1819 Jervis was resident engineer in charge of the canal’s middle section. In four years he was superintendent of 50 miles of completed canal. In 1827 he became chief engineer on the Delaware and Hudson canal and railway system project.

Learn more about the Jervis Library here