APL Launches Centennial Celebrations with Block Party on May 21 at Howe Branch

April 20, 2023 | Library News

Read the Times Union story about the library’s Centennial and APL Day 

View the APL Day event flyer

Albany Public Library (APL) is commemorating its Centennial this year starting with the first-ever Albany Public Library Day block party on Sunday, May 21, from 2 to 4 pm at the historic Howe Branch in the city’s South End.

Everyone is welcome to attend this free block party, and planned activities include:

  • A proclamation declaring May 21 as Albany Public Library Day from Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.
  • Guest speakers addressing the library’s history and place in the community.
  • Music by DJ John Brown, plus cookies and lemonade.
  • Crafts and storytimes for kids in the Howe garden.
  • A listening booth opportunity to “record your library story” for posterity.
  • Self-guided tours of the city’s oldest continuously operating library building.
  • Special APL Centennial library cards.
  • Centennial Challenge booklets, which include library-related activities participants complete to earn points toward a special collector’s edition Centennial-themed prize.
  • A photo display of the library’s many buildings and locations over the last 100 years.

The Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library are providing generous support for the block party and a variety of other Centennial programs. 

“Albany can take pride in its library system and in all the ways Albany Public Library has served the community for the past 100 years,” said Andrea Nicolay, APL executive director. “We are excited to celebrate this milestone and our rich history with events, programs, and activities across our seven locations in the months ahead.”

Albany Public Library’s history actually goes back more than 100 years:

  • APL’s origins began in 1833, when the Young Men’s Association for Mutual Improvement in the City of Albany (YMA) formed and opened a member library a few months later.
  • It wasn’t until May 21, 1923, that the NYS Legislature created Albany Public Library, moving five libraries run by the YMA to city government.
  • A year earlier, the YMA, which operated its library in Harmanus Bleecker Hall, as well as the John V.L. Pruyn Library on N. Pearl St., had taken over responsibility of the Albany Free Library, which operated libraries in the South End, Delaware, and Pine Hills areas as far back as 1891.
  • After being part of city government for 79 years, APL then made another major change: on May 21, 2002, city residents voted to allow the library to recharter for autonomy over its budget and operation, and board members elected by city residents.
  • APL’s most recent major development was the complete renovation of three branches (Delaware, Howe, Pine Hills) and construction of two new branches (Arbor Hill/West Hill, Bach), all of which opened between November 2009 and June 2010.

Stephanie Simon

Stephanie Simon is manager of APL's Communication and Creative Services Department, which provides content and information for the library's website, social media, publications, videos, podcasts, and other outlets. Stephanie also manages APL's public relations and marketing efforts.