The Margaret Reaney Memorial Library was a gift to the Village of St. Johnsville by local textile industrialist Joseph H. Reaney. Built in 1909, with a later addition in 1936, the gracious brick building sits amidst its own lovely park on a quiet side street. The building is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Reaney's beloved mother, Margaret Julia Reaney.
On entering the building one is immediately aware that this is not "just" a library. A well maintained original tin ceiling has recently been repainted. Softly aglow in creamy white and trimmed in pale rose, the ceiling evokes memories of days gone by when individuals spent hours contemplating the far away places and ideas described in books.
In addition to providing services typical of a public library, Margaret Reaney Memorial Library is also home to a unique museum. The Reaney Library houses a collection of fine art, sculpture, and historically important memorabilia. Spanning many years, from the pre-Revolutionary to the present time, the exhibits reflect the rich cultural heritage of the Mohawk Valley.
The Reaney Library owns a collection of over 50 paintings by European and American artists. These paintings are historically important to the region as they document local history and remain part of a strong collection of material culture amassed by one of the community's most important industrial families.
The Memorial Room, a gracious example of late Victorian interior design, provides an appropriate setting for the sculpture collection. Several 19th Century French sculptors, active in France between the end of the age of Napoleon and the start of World War I are represented.
The Reaney Library is also home to an internationally recognized collection of genealogical and local history materials. While the main strength of the collection is focused primarily on the history of the Palatine Germans, it is also reflective of the history of the Mohawk Valley, and in a broader respect, the history of New York State.
The collection includes histories of over 90% of the counties in New York State. Also available is the St. Johnsville Enterprise and News newspaper (now the Courier Standard Enterprise) dating from 1901. An obituary, marriage, and birth index has been developed and is contiunally maintained for the paper. In addition, during the 1920's, '30's, and '40's the Enterprise and News routinely published genealogical columns and articles about individual Mohawk Valley families. The Reaney Library collection also includes church histories and cemetery records, scrapbooks and pamphlets, gazetteers, and individual family histories. There are also books devoted to the general history of the American Revolution, the Spanish American War, and the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I. The genealogy and local history collection is available for research during regular library hours. Correspondence concerning the collection is welcomed and should be addressed to Marta Zimmerman, Assistant Director.
Copyright © 1999 Mohawk Valley Library System