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Elmirans Rally to Preserve Library’s History

Elmirans Rally for Steele’s History

ELMIRA (WENY) -- A change of a Historic name in Elmira, has neighbors concerned. This past Fall, Steele Memorial Library in Elmira, was changed to "Central Library."
     The Library has historic roots and some Elmirans are upset about the name change.
     "I think it's important in any community, but especially a small town like ours to preserve the names of the people who built our community," said Donna Homuth. "And central could be anywhere, it's generic."
     It's a fear of forgetting the past, for some local Elmirans. The library was named and built in honor of Elmira scholar and former Elmira Free Academy principal, Dorman Steele by his wife, Esther.
      Wounded and weak after serving as an officer in the Civil War, Dorman died after falling ill.
     "This woman gave this money to honor her husband, they were both educators, which gives them an interesting background for this kind of a building," said Lynne Brewer.
      Meantime, Ron Shaw, Executive Director of the Chemung County Library District, says the name change shows that this is the central library for the Chemung County Library District and Southern Tier Library System.
     "To market it as such is in no way disrespect to Mr. Steele," said Shaw. "The name is on the building."
     Shaw found historic documents from centuries ago in the library as well.       
     "I've gone through the effort to have them reframed in archival framing and glass so that we can have them displayed in the the main reading area and the auditorium," said Shaw.
    He says there is archival material displayed in the building that relates to the building and hopes to change that.  Shaw has plans to display these things among others to explain the importance of who Dorman Steele was.