Maxwell Memorial Library traces its beginnings to the efforts of K. Belle Hackford, a Camillus schoolteacher, to establish a library in the village of Camillus. Following a call for book donations and a discussion at a public meeting, the Camillus Library Association was formed on May 26, 1918. Miss Hackford was the first librarian. She was joined by Mary Ellis Maxwell as her assistant on June 12, 1919. On May 24, 1920, Mrs. Maxwell became the librarian upon Miss Hackford’s retirement. The library was granted a provisional charter by the Regents of the State University of New York on September 22, 1921. The absolute charter was issued on February 19, 1926.
The Camillus Library moved from one temporary home on Main Street in the village to another several times in its first decade. Its first location was in a single room over Abert’s Plumbing Shop. In January 1922, the library moved downstairs in the same building to an empty storefront. Two years later, in September 1924, the library moved to the old Cook home (future site of the village pharmacy). In December 1925, there was yet another move to an old building behind the Kemper Garage. The library’s current home is in the former Second Presbyterian Church at the intersection of Genesee and Leroy streets in the village of Camillus.
The Second Presbyterian Church was the first church in the area, built in 1822 on land donated by David Munro. The original wood frame structure was replaced by a brick building in 1868. It served as an active church until 1916. After closing as a church, the building was used by the American Red Cross during World War I. The Camillus Library Association purchased the building in 1925 for $3000. Remodeled at a cost of $15,000, the former church became the new library in 1927. It has since undergone several additional renovations, the most recent in 2016-2017.
On February 28, 1958, the Camillus Library was renamed the Maxwell Memorial Library in honor of Mary Ellis Maxwell and her decades of service to the library and community.
Maxwell Memorial Library is a member of the Central New York Library Resources Council.