Tompkins County Public Library (Ithaca, New York), founded in 1864 by Ezra Cornell, serves the 104,926 residents of Tompkins County and is the Central Library for the Finger Lakes Library System, serving libraries and users in Tompkins, Tioga, Cortland, Seneca and Cayuga counties.
At a glance:
- 38,000 registered borrowers
- Annual circulation of approximately 800,000
- Central Library of the five-county Finger Lakes Library System
- Collection includes more than 259,688 items
- Reached more than 34,691 children and adults through programming and outreach in 2019
- Nearly 500 volunteers have provided 9,689 hours of service to TCPL
- Approximately 77,000 internet sessions per year
- Over 11,000 social media followers
- 100s of community groups meet regularly at the library
- Over 3,000 children, teens and adults have registered for summer reading
Tompkins County Public Library (TCPL) believes that the library is for everyone. We value diverse opinions and respect free speech. Different points of view are allowed and welcomed.
TCPL also supports patrons’ right to a library environment free of harassment and intimidation. TCPL views all manifestations of prejudice and intolerance that target particular individuals or interfere with patrons’ ability to use the library as contradictory to our mission and violations of our Code of Conduct. We expect patrons and staff to contribute to a welcoming environment.
Approved by the Tompkins County Public Library Board of Trustees April 23, 2019; reviewed and approved with no changes by the Library Services & Policy Committee October 14, 2021.
We envision a library where everyone can belong and find joy in learning, discovery, and personal growth.
Tompkins County Public Library strives to meet and celebrate the aspirations of our community. We foster opportunities for people of all ages to discover, connect, and create throughout Tompkins County.
1864: New York State Legislature chartered the Cornell Public Library.
1866: Ezra Cornell presented Library Trustee Benjamin Ferris with the keys to the newly-constructed Cornell Library.
1868: First meeting of the faculty of the newly chartered Cornell University takes place at the library. Early classes and commencement exercises took place in the library's lecture hall.
1928: Bookmobile service began as a result of fundraising by local school children. The Bookmobile brought library service to more than 160 rural locations throughout the County.
1947: The newly-formed Friends of the Library held their first book sale in support of library programs and services. Since the Friends' formation over 3 million dollars has been donated to the library through their hard work and generosity.
1958: The Finger Lakes Library System was formed, with headquarters in the library building.
1967: Officially became the county library—remains municipal library; chartered to serve all of Tompkins County. Legislature approved construction of a new library.
1969: The Library moved to its larger, more modern facility at 312 North Cayuga Street.
1982: TCPL became the first library in New York to use a computerized catalog system.
1993: The Tompkins County Public Library Foundation was formed and took on the role of private fundraising through donor cultivation, annual mail appeals, grants, investment, and management of directed gifts and special events all aimed at improving the financial health of the library.
1995: TCPL began offering free internet access.
1998: The Tompkins County Board of Representatives approved a plan to purchase the Woolworth building on the corner of Green and Cayuga Streets and to transform the building into a state-of-the-art library.
2000: With a boost from a fundraising campaign that netted $1.7 million for the purchase of books, materials and furnishings, the new Library opened its doors.
2002: TCPL and Cornell University launched its annual Community Read partnership, which ran through 2015.
2005: Kindergartners from each of the schools in the Ithaca City School District began exploring the Library as part of the Kids Discover the Trail program.
2009: TCPL’s Green Street location celebrated its 4 millionth visitor with the early afternoon visit of twins Seth and Julian Ribiero.
2010: TCPL feted 10 years at Green Street with a celebration featuring programs, a visit by Ezra Cornell impersonator Fred Antil and a cake cutting ceremony.
2014: TCPL celebrated its 150th Anniversary with exhibits, events and proclamations and presentations by local and state officials. In November, the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation launched the Campaign for a 21st Century Library.
2016: Tompkins County Legislature approved plans for the construction of a teen center and digital learning lab for TCPL.
2017: New Digital Lab, Makerspace, Teen Center & Local History Room opened.
2019: TCPL is fine free.
2020: Closed due to COVID-19 from March 13, 2020 through June 14, 2020. Opened June 15 for curbside pickup, August 11 for Internet services, and November 30 for browsing.
Solar Panel Information
In January 2002 TCPL began receiving electricity from a 147 kW photovoltaic system on the roof of the library. The system consists of 1430 modules and covers a surface area of 17,222 ft2. The system provides roughly 13% of the overall energy use of the library and to date, has produced 989,000 kWh of energy, enough to power 83 homes for a year (Sunpower). In addition the system has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 750 tons, which is roughly equivalent to driving 1.5 million miles in an average car (Sunpower). The system was a result of a request by Tompkins County Legislator Dooley Kiefer, who approached the Tompkins County Engineering Division (which has now been incorporated into the Facilities Division) to explore the possibilities of installing a PV system on the roof of library during renovation (from Solar Energy Generation Potential of Tompkins County, Curthoys 2012).
You can go online to monitor the system’s performance at https://us.sunpower.com/business-government/large-commercial/sunpower-commercial.
Log into the account:
User Name: library
User Password: solarpower
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