About three months after the Battle of Plattsburgh in 1814, an advertisement appeared in the local weekly newspaper, which read…
Circulating Library: The subscriber respectfully gives notice to the Ladies and Gentlemen in Plattsburgh that he has opened a Circulating Library at his Book Store for their accommodation. The price of using Books will be 25 cents per volume every 24 hours which they are kept, to be paid in advance, and the value of them must be deposited at the time they are taken to remain a Pledge for their return and good usage.
Dec. 29, 1814 J.D. Low
The next mention of a library is in 1884 when Rev. N. Richards of the Baptist Church organized a reading room in the basement of the Church. Books were brought here by the state’s traveling library. Mr. W.R.Eastman, the State Superintendent of Libraries came to Plattsburgh to form a Board of Trustees and a charter was granted on June 5, 1894. Arthur Richard was the first Librarian. In 1895 E. S. Hall became the Librarian. The library grew to fifteen hundred volumes in 1898 with village support. The Library then moved to rooms in the Weed Building (the old Plattsburgh Opera House). Eventually the Library was moved to City Hall in 1918. In 1924 Miss Helen Eliza Hale became the first trained Librarian. The library continued to outgrow its quarters and in 1938 a proposal was put to the taxpayers that the old high school property on the corner of Oak and Brinkerhoff Street be acquired for a library. The Common Council sponsored a WPA project to remodel the building and the new Library was dedicated on August 30, 1940. In 1949 Miss Hale retired and Emma Walter became Librarian. In 1954 Miss Walter initiated the establishment of the Clinton Essex Franklin Library System to better serve the surrounding counties. Miss Walter became the head of the system as well as the director of the Plattsburgh Public Library where she remained until 1962. At that time she resigned as system head but continued at the director of the library. The Friends of the Public Library art gallery is the Hale-Walter Art Gallery in memory of these two library directors.
In 1973 an addition was made to the building which now house its public service areas and in 2003 a major remodeling of the space was done.