Oneida Library is closed until further notice

In the best interests of its patrons and the greater Oneida community, Oneida Public Library has closed its doors until further notice in compliance with the orders of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Madison County Health Department while the COVID-19 epidemic sweeps across New York State.

Library programs, Senior Tax Help by Cornell co-op volunteers and adult literacy tutoring sessions held at the library, 220 Broad St., will be rescheduled once the state of emergency is lifted in whole or in part. (The Internal Revenue Service has extended the deadline for 2019 income tax filing until July 15, 2020.)

While patrons are unable to borrow library materials or place books on hold for the duration, all 43 libraries in the MidYork Library System, including the OPL, have extended the due date for materials now in the hands of patrons to July 1, 2020, and will continue the suspension of holds on MidYork books, DVDs and other materials until July 1.

Meanwhile, OPL staff is busy working at home on developing online programming. Check out the OPL’s Facebook page for the latest: https://www.facebook.com/OneidaPublicLibrary/

The OPL’s online services are up and running and available to all holders of a MidYork library card: Libby/Overdrive for e-books and audio books; Hoopla for downloading movies, TV shoes and e-books; and RB Digital for magazines and audio books. Patrons can directly access these online sources at the MidYork Library System web site (www.midyork.org and http://www.midyork.overdrive.com). Those without MidYork library cards and eligible to have one can still access the online services by applying for an E-Patron library card that is good for six months.

The new OPL goes ‘on pause’

459 Main Street, March 27, 2020. By order of the State of New York, construction on the new Oneida Public Library was halted at the end of the day, March 27, as were all non-essential  construction projects throughout the state. Here is how it looked just before shutdown. (Photo by R. Kinsella)

And now a word from our Madison County historian

We are in a unique historical moment that will be of interest to future generations. Our local historians, historical societies and libraries are working diligently to record the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as much as possible while working outside the office with the goal of preserving data on the local reaction to COVID-19 so that future generations have as much information as possible.

Most historical researchers would tell you that we seldom benefit from a good record of people’s thoughts during historic moments, but we can change that during the present crisis. We are encouraging all local Madison County residents to document as much as you can so that when future generations look back on this they will have a wealth of local information to better understand how COVID-19 impacted our community.

With that in mind we are encouraging local residents whenever possible to one or more of the following.

Keep a diary. Beginning today, record your memories of local events and reactions to COVID-19. Write about how store closings, losses of jobs, social distancing has impacted your life and your daily routine.
Encourage your friends and neighbors, if they are able, to record their feelings and activities during the pandemic as well.
Speak to your friends, neighbors, and family that are not keeping a journal and ask for their thoughts and opinions and write or record it all.
Take and collect photographs of various ways your community has responded to the stay-at-home-orders.
Document specific activities your community’s citizens are taking to help each other in this crisis.
If you have the capability keep an audio or video diary that includes your thoughts, fears, descriptions of daily activities and family life.

In recording this information please remember that your safety must come first and that you should follow all guidelines set forward by the Madison County Health Department, New York State and and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. And when the clouds lift and we can go about our regular business, please donate these to your local historical society, library, historic commission or historian for posterity.

Matthew Urtz
Madison County Historian

19th-century Oneida newspapers in OPL’s Digital Archives Thanks to a grant from the Central New York Library Resources Council and a donation from the Friends of the Oneida Public Library, the OPL’s Digital Archives of the Oneida Public Library now has the digital versions of 10 microfilm reels of Oneida 19th-century newspapers: The Democratic Union (Feb. 1872-Sept. 1875 and Jan. 1885-Dec. 1901) and the Oneida Free Press (April 1880-March 1886).


The OPL has Oneida High School yearbooks online Oneida High School yearbooks from 1936 through 2018 have been successfully digitized, electronically indexed and, as of today, posted online at the web site of New York Heritage, thanks to a Regional Bibliographic Databases Program grant to the Oneida Public Library from the New York State Library, as administered by the Central New York Library Resources Council in Syracuse. Those interested in exploring the yearbooks online can go directly to the New York Heritage site at: https://nyheritage.org/collections/oneida-yearbook-collection 

Oneida Library budget vote and trustee election
Mar 3 @ 12:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Registered voters in Oneida Public Library’s Special Legislature District, which is co-extensive with the Oneida City School District, are eligible to vote for a candidate for the one open seat on the OPL Board of Trustees and to approve or not the board’s proposed library operating budget for fiscal year July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021. Voting is done in the library’s Meeting Room, 220 Broad St., Oneida, between 12:00 noon and 9: p.m. The Meeting Room permits barrier-free access to the physically handicapped. For more information, contact the library director at (315) 363-3050.

After-school Book Club
Mar 11 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Oneida Public Library’s Youth Services Coordinator, Megan Gillander invites all third to fifth graders to come to the library and discuss the final chapters of “Book Scavenger” and prepare for the March selection, “The Library of Ever,” the first in a series by Zeno Alexander.

Women Suffrage in Madison County
Mar 11 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

At Oneida Public Library on Wednesday, March 11, at 7:00 p.m., Madison County Historian Matthew Urtz will present a program on women’s political activism in the county during the years leading up to passage of women’s right to vote in New York State in 1917 and, in 1920, a right guaranteed nationally by the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Matthew Urtz, Madison County Historian

In particular, Urtz will highlight the female pro-suffragist forces in Oneida and among the descendants of the Oneida Community and contrast them with the ladies of Cazenovia who adamantly opposed women’s suffrage. Of course, either side had to persuade the men of the county, since only eligible males could vote for state and federal legislators and for or against the state referenda on women’s suffrage. In 1917, the male voters of Madison County by a slight majority joined the majority of voters in the state who passed the referendum to give women 21 years of age and older the right to vote in local and state elections.

Still, as Urtz will describe, the county’s anti-suffrage forces did not give up and lobbied their federal and state representatives to vote no on a women’s suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. They lost. Congress passed the 19th Amendment in June 1919; in August 2020, after ratification by three-fourths of the state legislatures, the right of women to vote became the law of the land.

Urtz, who was appointed county historian by the County Board of Supervisors in April 2010, has published articles on local history in many local and regional publications and regularly gives historical presentations around Madison County.  He serves on the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro and on the Board of Directors of the Preservation Association of Central New York. Currently, he is first vice-president and Region 9 coordinator for the Association of Public Historians in New York State.

As county historian, Urtz has worked to make county government archives and local primary documents available to educators and the public through partnerships with the schools, archival exhibits and ambitious digitization projects, including a current project to digitize the Highway Department’s photographs from the 1940s on. For the renovation of the County Courthouse in Wampsville, he organized the restoration of the courthouse’s numerous portraits and led public tours at its re-opening. Around the county he has organized historical re-enactments at local cemeteries in a program dubbed “If Tombstones Could Talk” and, since 2018, he has led tours of the county’s historically significant restaurants, complete with “historic” dinners. In 2020, Urtz will expand his tours to sites and buildings in the county of historic significance.

Urtz’s lecture is another in a series of special programs in the OPL’s 2020 Centennial Celebration of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment. It is free and open to all. For more information, stop by the Oneida Library, 220 Broad St., or call 315-363-3050.

2020 Visions in Watercolors
Mar 15 @ 9:30 am – 11:30 am

Artist and teacher Carol Cotton conducts a free art workshop for adult in five sessions on painting still lifes in watercolors. The workshop is free, but pre-registration at the OPL Circulation Desk is required. A list of required art supplies will be provided to registrants. The workshop will meet on Wednesdays, 9:30 to 11:30 p.m., from March 18 to April 15.

Family Super Saturday: Bad Art
Mar 15 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

If your family members lack art skills but enjoy a good time, come to the OPL for a bad art competition. Whether a silly portrait, messy mobile or wretched sculpture, the worse piece might win the prize. All materials are supplied.

Family Night: Sign Language for All
Mar 15 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

All family members can learn the basics, helpful words and phrases of American Sign Language. Megan Gillander, a sign-language adept, will lead the class.

Pushing the Limits Book Club: ‘The Radium Girls’
Mar 15 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Prof. Jen Herzog leads the discussion on Kate Moore’s “The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women,” a history of several factory women who handled the new “miracle” material discovered by the Curies, radium. Sign up and request a copy of the book at the OPL Circulation Desk.


Book Discussion: Four Fabulous Female Novelists
Mar 15 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Dr. Roxanna Pisiak from Morrisville State College guides the discussion on “My Sister, the Serial Killer,” by Nigerian author Oyinken Braithwaite. The funny and bizarre novel follows the narrator’s attempts to “clean up” after her homicidal sister. Interested readers can sign up at the OPL’s circulation desk and request a copy of the book.


OPL Board Meeting
Mar 23 @ 9:00 am – 10:30 am

The Oneida Public Library Board of Trustees will hold its regular monthly meeting on Monday, March 23, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. in the library’s Meeting Room, 220 Broad St., Oneida. The public is invited to attend. The Meeting Room permits barrier-free access to the physically handicapped. For more information, call the Oneida Library at (315) 363-3050.

After-school Book Club
Mar 25 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Oneida Public Library’s Youth Services Coordinator, Megan Gillander invites all third to fifth graders to come to the library and discuss the final chapters of “Book Scavenger” and prepare for the March selection, “The Library of Ever,” the first in a series by Zeno Alexander.