Charter & ByLaws

Brief History of the Library’s Charter

On October 18, 1920, a meeting of the Berkshire Free Library Association was held for the purpose of filing, with the University of the State of New York, a Certificate of Establishment of a New Library. 

It is recorded that “over fifty” of the “more than 130” members of the association from the Town of Berkshire and vicinity were present.  Elected as Trustees were:  Miriam Patch, James Darmody, Miss Louise Darbonnier, Eugene Lynch, Alfred Ford, Irving Cleveland, S. S. Dewitt, Bessie Ball, and Harper Prentice.  A sum of $2 per member was assessed for the maintenance of the library.

On December 1, 1920, Miriam Patch, President, filed the Application for the Library’s Provisional Charter.  The library was for the free use of residents of the “town of Berkshire and some territory in the town of Richford” containing 900 inhabitants.  The application certified that the library had 150 bound books, in good condition, valued at $125; furnishing worth $40;  cash on hand of $160; and valid subscriptions receivable of $86.  It was to be kept in one room over the S. S. Dewitt General Store on Main St., with an annual rent of $36, and to be open 2 hours on 3 days each week. 

The Berkshire Reading Club, formed in 1907, also played an instrumental part in the library’s formation.  Two of the most active proponents of the library were Marion Patch’s mother, Emma Bradley Payne, and Harriet B. Johnson.  Mrs. Payne served as librarian, without pay, until her death in 1926.   At that time, Mrs. Payne’s house was conveyed to the Library, the front 3 rooms to be used for the library, with an apartment for her successor. 

On June 24, 1926, “the Regents of the University of the State of New York, being satisfied that the required conditions have been met, have granted to the Berkshire Free Library, Berkshire, Tioga County, New York, this absolute charter to replace its provisional charter, which was granted February 24, 1921, and continues the corporation with all its powers, privileges and duties.”

In 1999 a new charter would expand the library’s service area to include all the residents of the Town of Richford.


By-Laws of the Berkshire Free Library

Mission Statement

The mission of the Berkshire Free Library Association is to provide a variety of materials and programs for all ages in the community; to be an access point for print and on-line information from other sources; to encourage children and young adults to develop an interest in reading and learning; and to serve as a community historical resource and meeting area.

Article I Name

The name of the organization shall be the Berkshire Free Library.

Article II Object

To maintain a circulating library, free for public use, to the residents of the Town of Berkshire, the Town of Richford, and adjacent areas.

Article III Library Association Membership

Anyone 18 years of age or over and residing in the Town of Berkshire or the Town of Richford and holding a library card with the Finger Lakes Library System is a member, may vote for trustees, and may hold office as a trustee.

Article IV Trustee and Officers

There shall be ten trustees from the Town of Berkshire and the Town of Richford to form the governing board of the library.  Trustee shall be elected for a term of three years.  Commencing with the 2019 annual meeting, and every three years thereafter, four trustees will be elected; all other years, three trustees will be elected.  The annual meeting will be held the second Monday of January.

Article V Powers and Duties of Officers

The trustees shall be responsible for the general management of the library and its property.  They shall provide ways and means for its maintenance; suitable space; furniture; books and other educational materials; and equipment; and including historical museum facilities.

They shall make policies for free use of the library by members.

The trustees shall develop job descriptions for employee positions; appoint and fix the wage of a qualified Director and any needed assistants or employees.  The Trustees also will appoint the Museum Curator.

The trustees shall have others powers and duties as a prescribed for trustees of association libraries by New York State law.

The President shall call and preside at meetings of the trustees; give notice of the meetings when needed; appoint committees authorized by the board; sign, when authorized by the board, all papers and documents of a formal or legal nature.

The Vice-President shall assist the President and preside at meetings in the absence of the President and assume and perform the duties of the President in the absence of the President.

The Secretary shall keep a true and accurate record of the proceedings of meetings of the trustees; conduct correspondence for the board of trustees; preside at meetings in the absence of the President and Vice-President.

The Treasurer is responsible for the oversight of the deposit and disbursement of all library funds; reconciliation of bank statements; maintaining appropriate accounting records; and providing a monthly Treasurer’s report to the board and at the annual meeting.  Develop and present the annual budget in conjunction with the Finance Committee.   The day to day clerical bookkeeping tasks can be delegated to another individual at the discretion of and with approval of the board.

The Director shall have charge of the library and its operations under the direction of the board of trustees.

The Museum Curator shall have charge of the museum and its operations under the directions of the board of trustees.

Article VI Museum

The name of the museum shall be the Berkshire History Museum.  The purpose of the museum shall be to provide safekeeping of objects of unique historical significance to the Town of Berkshire and for the interpretation of these objects through research and through exhibition to the public.

The trustees shall be responsible for the general management of the museum and its contents.  The trustees shall designate certain funds from gifts and other sources for the museum apart from general library funds.  They shall make rules and regulations for free of charge viewing of the museum exhibits and materials by the members and the public.

Article VII Committees

The Finance Committee shall be responsible for the internal controls, audit, and investment policies, and participate in the development of the annual budget and generally supervise the investments of all funds, major purchases, and expenditures.

The Building Committee shall general supervise the use and maintenance of the library building and grounds.

The President shall appoint other committees as needed and authorized by the board of trustees.  Each committee shall report to the board and have only advisory powers unless the board grants it specific power to act.

Article VIII Meetings

The Annual meeting of the members of the Berkshire Free Library shall be held the second Monday of January each year.  If circumstances prohibit meeting on that day, the date will be set by the President in consultation with the other trustees and Director.

The reorganizational meeting of the board of trustees shall follow the annual meeting.  The purpose is to elect new officers for the year, establish committees, hear reports, and conduct any other business coming before the board.

Other meeting of the board of trustees shall be called as necessary by the President with a minimum of four meetings per year.

A majority of the board of trustees shall be 6 trustees to constitute a quorum.

The minimum to pass a motion is 6.

All regular meetings of the board of trustees shall be held at the library.

Proceedings of all board meetings shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order.

Article IX Amendments

These by-laws may be amended by a yes vote of 7 trustees.  Notice of any proposed amendments shall be given to each trustee in writing at least 2 weeks before the meeting at which the vote is to be taken.

These revised and amended by-laws of the Berkshire Free Library were approved at a meeting January 14, 2019.


Signed:  John D. Stoughton, President