The South Huntington Public Library was founded in 1961. Voters approved the new library district in May and by November, the community’s first public library opened in the basement of the Central Elementary School on New York Avenue, which is now the office building behind Staples. Avis Duckworth was the first director.
A formal opening ceremony for the library was held on March 11, 1962. About 200 people attended the Open House from 3-5 p.m. A local Brownie Troop decorated the children's section of the library with collage artwork depicting five famous children's books.
The Friends of the South Huntington Library, a group of volunteers who support library programs and services, was founded in April, 1963.
It didn’t take long for the library to outgrow its space, and ground was broken for the Melville Road building on April 6, 1968. A dedication and open house was held on December 14, 1969 for the new 24,500-square-foot library, which housed 181,000 materials in its collection. According to a December 11, 1969 article in The Long-Islander announcing the opening, a highlight of the day’s events was an exhibit of sculpture by Alfred Van Loen, a professor and well-known artist who lived locally and was the first curator of the library’s art exhibits.
Throughout the 1990s, library service changed dramatically. The card catalog was automated in 1994 and Internet service was offered beginning in 1996.
By the late 1990s, the library’s collection and services had grown to the point where a new building was considered. The community approved a bond referendum to build a new library in December, 2000, and ground was broken on October 27, 2002. A 49,000-square-foot building was constructed on the site of the former Pidgeon Hill Elementary School and on July, 24, 2004, a festive grand opening was held.
A unique feature of the new library is an Outdoor Garden, which was funded through a Donor Recognition Campaign conducted by the Friends of the Library. Patrons and supporters purchased bluestone engravings, which were placed on the bluestone walkway encircling the garden. The space is used for outdoor studying and reading and as a venue for outdoor concerts.
In September, 2011, the library held a celebration honoring 50 years of library service to the community. It featured a special ceremony, “Art of Reading” exhibit, concerts and magic show. The Friends of the Library sponsored a Beatles Tribute concert and dessert buffet.
The Young Adult Library on the lower level was expanded in 2012 to create areas for teens to gather, socialize and study as well as a performance space.
In 2013, the Friends of the Library celebrated 50 years of supporting the community with brunch and an appearance by local author Alyson Richman, who discussed her latest release, The Lost Wife.
The reading patio outside the Adult Library in 2014 was named the Elsie Coulter Reading Terrace, in memory of the longtime employee who was head of Circulation for many years.
The Library continued to keep pace with changes in the way library materials and services are provided and in 2017 built a Technology Center, which is used for technology and library literacy classes. It is also equipped with several 3D printers that are used to create projects submitted by patrons.
Another new feature was established in the spring of 2019: A Learning Garden was planted just off the reading patio behind the library. It is used to teach children about gardening and nature, and the harvest is donated to local food pantries. The garden was funded by a generous contribution from the Friends of the Library.