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 235,000 items
- Reached more than 40,000 children and adults through programming and outreach in 2018
- Nearly 500 volunteers have provided 9,689 hours of service to TCPL
- Approximately 77,000 internet sessions per year
- Nearly 7,000 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.
Our Library strives to inspire and educate all members of our community during each stage of their lives, to be a place where people can experience the joy of reading, the power of information, and the strength of community connections.
Tompkins County Public Library is a core community service. We provide free and open access to services, resources, and programs that foster literacy, cultural appreciation and personal growth and community connections.
Adopted January 25, 2011
1864: New York State Legislature Charted 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: The library 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.