By Jasmine Willis
ATLANTA – This town has seen its share of ups and downs since it began its time as a booming community in the 1800s.
As I turned through the pages of an old Bicentennial Book of Cohocton, I noticed our old E.J. Cottrell Memorial Library has an important milestone of its own coming up. In February 1921 an idea was formed to create a library at the newly formed Hyatt Clair Hatch Post No. 766 Atlanta American Legion. Austin Higgins was appointed as the man in charge of coming up with a plan for the library.
From there it was decided that four legion members would staff the library. It was only open two days a week for a total of nine hours in the Lander House. This was a hotel in which the Cohocton Town Court is now located. Another big decision needed to take place. What to call the newly formed library?
It was interesting to know that the name E.J. Cottrell came from the only son of Delano D. Cottrell, founder of Moore Cottrell Subscriptions Agency. Edward Jay Cottrell died in 1918 after getting sick in the Great War. His descendants would come visit the memorial library in his honor, and it would mean the world to them. It is said the young man had a whole attic full of books that were donated to start the library.
In April 1921 the small group knew they needed a more permanent home for their library. Some ideas came to light and a more permanent association was formed. Twenty-eight citizens elected five trustees to take over the library in June 1921.
Finally, in 1969 the Atlanta Library became a member of the Southern Tier Library System, which greatly increased the services to the community. In 1971 they made the huge move across the street to what was then the Atlanta National Bank. This is the story of how a one-room library became three-rooms. The addition of the Children’s Room was a highlight in 1991. Another strong addition came to house the computer room and multitude of fiction novels in 2001.
Past librarians that have impacted the history of this community library include, Olive Wheaton, Harriet Wheaton, Florence Vanda, June Gonyea, Sandra Snyder, Mary Russell, Debra Stephens, Shirley Bidlack, and Brenda Yeoman Current staff making an impact Jessica Pasquale, Jasmine Willis and Belinda Schuler.
The programs that have impacted this community include Coffee Hour, Line Dance Class, Puzzle Club, Painting Class, Basket Class, Children Summer Reading, We Wear History, Santa Claus Store, Santa Claus Reading, Atlanta Historic Christmas, and much more.
The library went from it’s humble beginnings of one employee, one room, and 200 books to three rooms, three employees, and thousands of books, videos, audio, computers, programs, and a fully automatic system.
E.J. Cottrell Memorial Library is more than just a place to get a good book. It has always been a place for the community to grow. Visit the library at https://www.facebook.com/AtlantaLibrary1864 for updates and programs. Hours are Mon. and Tues. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Weds. to Fri. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We are located 30 Main Street Atlanta NY. You can call at 585-534-5030.