Chester Library Board of Trustees Records Finding Aid

Chester Library Board of Trustees Records, 1911-2012

Collection Number:


Finding Aid Publication Date:

Published in 2012. ©Copyright Chester Public Library

Descriptive Summary


Chester Library Board of Trustees Records


Chester Library Board of Trustees




5 linear feet (6 oversized document cases and three binders)


The Chester Library Board of Trustees Records document the founding of the Chester Library, its board members and library directors, policies, facilities, and Friends of the Library. Additionally, the records demonstrate the growth, challenges, and triumphs of a small local library over more than a century of service in a Northwestern New Jersey community.




Local History Department
Chester Public Library
250 W. Main Street
Chester, NJ 07930
Phone: (908) 879-7612
Fax:  (908) 879-8695

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Use:

This collection is open for research.

Physical Access:

The three binders in this collection represent the current year and the two previous years of Chester Library Board of Trustees meeting minutes. These items are held in the Library Director’s office rather than in the archival storage space due to frequent use. The remaining 6 document cases are held in the archival storage area with the library’s other collections.

Technical Access:

No special equipment is required. These items have not been digitized.

Conditions Governing Reproduction:

While some materials in this collection are in the public domain, in other cases copyright restrictions may apply. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Local History Librarian, Chester Public Library, 250 W. Main Street, Chester, NJ 07930.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], Chester Library Board of Trustees Records collection of Chester Public Library, Chester, New Jersey.

Collection Processed By:

Debra Schiff, Local History Librarian in 2012

Finding Aid Author:

Debra Schiff, Local History Librarian

Description Control:

Description based on DACS.

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On August 10, 1911, after listening to a talk by Sarah Askew of the New Jersey State Library Commission, a group of Chester citizens informally voted to create a Chester Library Association. Askew later provided an outline of a plan that had proven successful throughout the state. It was decided that the library would be free, and membership in the Association would cost $1 per year. Additionally, a committee was formed to find a location for the library, and a membership committee was formed to canvas the town by districts.

One week later on August 18th, at the Methodist Church, a meeting was called to elect a Chairperson, Librarian, Board of Trustees, and various committees. Harris Day was elected as permanent Chairman for one year. H.H. Van Natta was elected secretary for one year. It was decided that there would be seven trustees, four to serve 1-year terms and the remaining three to serve for 2-year terms. The original trustees were the following: Harris Day, H.H. Van Natta, Elmer E. Beams, and William F. Appleby (for 1 year);  and Edith Tredway, Mary Gardner, and Mary Collis (for 2-years). The Association also voted to secure as the site of the new library the upper floor of the metal shoe-support factory on the corner of Main and Warren Streets for $4.00 per month. The trustees were assigned the task of appointing a Librarian. They also decided to officially open the library on Labor Day, September 4, 1911. Also on the evening of August 18, 1911, at a special trustees meeting at the home of Edward P. Gardner, Frances Tredway was appointed as the first Librarian of the Chester Library. She served for fewer than two months before resigning. She was succeeded by Mabel Drake, but later served as Librarian for 31 years ending in 1962.

On the day of the Library’s opening, approximately 150 people attended the ceremonies. Afterward, the Trustees of the Chester Library Association met sporadically to discuss purchases of books and library furniture, the Literary Society’s rental of meeting rooms, hours of service, heating issues, and other topics. In August 1913, the association’s name changed to the Chester Free Public Library Association.

By September 1913, the Library owned 1035 books, and 300 more on the shelves were discarded books from Trenton, donations from traveling libraries, and special loans from the state. From 1913-1971, the trustees met annually, with special meetings occurring frequently at times. In 1962, the Association was incorporated as the Chester Free Public Library Association.

Throughout the 1970s, the trustees began meeting more frequently, primarily to discuss the building of a permanent home for the library on the site where the current building stands. Additionally, the Friends of the Library were formed on April 27, 1972, at Pat Middings’ home.

By the 1980s, the trustees had been meeting on a monthly basis, as is their practice today. While technology has changed some of the conversation, many of the recent minutes contain similar topics to the earliest meetings. For example, minutes in the 2000s include policy issues, budget recommendations, salary discussions, and new furniture recommendations amid notes on automation.

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Scope and Content

The Chester Library Board of Trustees Records were created primarily during the Board meetings. The collection spans more than a century of Chester Library’s activities, from its inception in 1911 to current operations. The bulk of the collection comprises the Board’s meeting minutes, however, there are correspondence files and relevant reports on library service and usage, for example. Major topics of discussion include the moving of the library, the building of a new facility, and a recent renovation. Additionally, there are some listings of Friends of the Library events and fundraisers.  Board members, library directors, Friends members, and consultants are the individuals referenced in this collection. The value of this collection to researchers is in its completeness. Despite only having one or two meetings per year in the early years (as opposed to today’s monthly meetings), the Board secretary took descriptive and copious minutes. The history of the Chester Library can be traced incrementally through the materials in this collection.

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Organization and Arrangement

This collection of records is divided into two series: Series 1, Minutes, 1911-2012, and Series 2, Reports, 1962-1976, 1998. Both series are arranged chronologically. Series 1 comprises 5 oversized document cases and 3 binders. Series 2 comprises 1 oversized document case.

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Index Terms

Corporate Names/Organizations Subject:

Chester Free Public Library
Chester Free Public Library Association
Chester Free Public Library Board of Trustees


Library administration.
Library buildings
Library trustees
Minutes books


Abeles, Janet
Adessa, Frank
Appleby, William F.
Beams, Elmer E.
Call, Mae
Cole, Robert
Collis, Mary
Day, Harris
Eible, Ted
Gardner, Mary
Karczewski, Lesley
Middings, Patricia
Orr, Edwin W., Jr.
Persak, Susan
Pope, Daniel L.
Serbe, Mary Jane
Tredway, Edith
Tredway, Frances
Ziegler, Beth


Chester (N.J.)
Chester Township (N.J.)
Morris County (N.J.)
New Jersey.

Genre Terms:

Administrative records
Journals, accounts

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Related Items

Friends of the Chester Library Records

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Series 1: Minutes, 1911-2012

For many years, the Library Board of Trustees’ Secretary took meeting minutes in bound books. In about half the cases, to protect the records, these have been disbound and placed into folders. The bound minute books also include some correspondence and other materials, which have been removed to folders for preservation purposes. After the advent of the Friends of the Library, the minutes include updates on Friends-sponsored events. Additionally, there are materials related to the building and later renovation of the library. These items include copies of contracts with architects and builders, as well as plans. The minutes also include budgets and other financial information.

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Series 2: Reports, 1962-1976, 1998

The reports in this series focus mainly on library service, but also include the transcript of a talk on the retirement of long-time Librarian Frances Tredway.

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Container List

LDO indicates that these materials are located in the Library Director’s office.

Box 1, Chester Library Board of Trustees Records, 1911-1976

Box Series Folder Title Dates
1 1 1 “Old Minutes Book” 1911-1936
2 Items removed from “Old Minutes Book” 1912-1914, 1939
3 Minutes Book 1938-1968
4 Items removed from 1938-1968 Minutes Book 1938-1968, with gaps
5 Financials and incorporation documents 1962, 1967-1970
6 Correspondence 1968-1971
7 Correspondence 1970-1972
8 Minutes 1968-1971
9 Minutes 1972
10 Minutes 1973
11 Minutes 1974
12 Minutes 1975
13 Minutes 1974-1976

Box 2, Chester Library Board of Trustees Records, 1976-1984

Box Series Folder Title Dates
2 1 1 Minutes 1976-1977
2 Minutes 1978-1978
3 Minutes Book 1979-1980
4 Minutes Book 1981-1982
5 Minutes Book 1983-1984

Box 3, Chester Library Board of Trustees Records, 1985-1992

Box Series Folder Title Dates
3 1 1 Minutes Book 1985-1986
2 Minutes Book 1987-1988
3 Minutes Book 1989-1990
4 Minutes Book 1981-1992

Box 4, Chester Library Board of Trustees Records, 1993-2001

Box Series Folder Title Dates
4 1 1 Minutes Book 1993-1994
2 Minutes 1995
3 Minutes 1996
4 Minutes 1997
5 Minutes 1998
6 Minutes 1999
7 Minutes 2000
8 Minutes 2001

Box 5, Chester Library Board of Trustees Records, 2002-2012

Box Series Folder Title Dates
5 1 1 Minutes 2002
2 Minutes 2003
3 Minutes 2004
4 Minutes 2005
5 Minutes 2006
6 Minutes 2007
7 Minutes 2008
8 Minutes 2009
LDO 1 Minutes binder 2010
LDO Minutes binder 2011
LDO Minutes binder 2012

Box 6, Chester Library Board of Trustees Records, 1962-1998

Box Series Folder Title Dates
6 2 1 Talk by Charles A. Williamson, President, Board of Trustees, Chester Free Library Association, on the occasion of the Testimonial Reception for Miss Frances Tredway, retiring after thirty-one years of service as Librarian 1962
2 Library Service for Chester 1968
3 A Study of Local Library Usage in the Chesters and Mendhams, New Jersey (2 copies) 1968
4 Survey of the Public Library of Chester Borough and Chester Township 1969
5 Ten Year Report 1960-1971
6 Survey of the Chester Public Library 1975
7 1975 Library Report 1975
8 The Future Development of the Chester Library, 1993-1998, Background and Plan (3 copies) 1193-1998

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