Gill’s ‘little jewel’: Slate Memorial Library celebrates 100 years

  • Slate Memorial Library at 332 Main Road in Gill. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Slate Memorial Library celebrates its 100-year anniversary with a cake from Upinngil Farm’s Cliff Hatch, pictured. Contributed Photo

  • The Hatch family poses with Cliff Hatch’s cake depicting Slate Memorial Library in Gill. Contributed Photo

  • Slate Memorial Library celebrates its 100-year anniversary with a cake from Upinngil Farm’s Cliff Hatch, pictured. Contributed Photo

Staff Writer
Published: 10/19/2021 4:27:12 PM

GILL — Slate Memorial Library may be celebrating a century of serving Gill’s residents, but providing steady continuity, both in looks and operations, may be its proudest achievement.

Having opened in 1921 by Gill-born Hollis M. Slate in memory of his father, Prentice Smead Slate, the library at 332 Main Road remains a humble two-room building that Director Jocelyn Castro-Santos said suits the community of about 1,400 residents. She takes pride in the library’s centrality in the “lovely rural small town,” calling it a “hub” for the community.

“Gill is a tiny town that doesn’t have a community center that I can think of,” Castro-Santos noted. “I just think it’s like a little jewel.”

Castro-Santos, who has been the library’s director for about 20 years, said she appreciates how the library has stayed true to itself.

“What I think is lovely is that it has kind of stayed the same,” she said.

Castro-Santos mentioned the library used a Gill Energy Commission grant two years ago to insulate the building’s ceiling and undergo renovations in a way that further restored the library’s original look. She hopes the town continues to both preserve and innovate within the space for generations to come.

“I just hope that in 100 years from here,” Castro-Santos said, “the library is still here and loved and used, and people find new ways to use the library.”

To celebrate its anniversary, the library hosted a small outdoor celebration in September with children’s activities, books and cakes made by Upinngil Farm’s Cliff Hatch. The cakes were customized in the likeness of the library building and grounds. Castro-Santos said Hatch’s keen attention to detail included him special ordering blue cornmeal to replicate the look of the library’s roof.

“It was really wonderful of him,” she said of Hatch’s effort, “but it really exemplifies how tight-knit this little community of Gill is and how much they care about the library.”

Slate Memorial Library is open Tuesdays from 2 to 6 p.m., Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m., Thursdays from 2 to 8 p.m, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Upcoming library events

■Saturday, Oct. 30, 4 p.m. — Halloween celebration for children. This event will include live-action story time, cider and doughnuts, and a Story Walk. Children are encouraged to wear costumes, and dig for bones in the sandbox.

■Saturday, Nov. 13, at 1 p.m. — Local Gill history with Lynn Stowe Tomb and Pam Shoemaker, who will talk about and sign copies of their two history books.

■Saturday, Nov. 20, at noon — Felt snowflake ornament workshop. Participants will play with felt and embroidery floss to create a one-of-a-kind ornament for the holidays. All materials will be provided.

■Saturday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Holiday card making workshop. Participants will craft a card for someone special this holiday season. All ages are welcome, and coffee and treats will be provided.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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