Heritage Scrapbooking Workshop Saturday June 14th with Dawn Westfall


On Saturday, June 14 from 1-4pm, Dawn Westfall, a local genealogist and family historian, will present a Heritage Scrapbooking workshop at the Olean Public Library.   In this workshop, Ms. Westfall combines her love of old photos, scrapbooking, and family history and will share how-to techniques with you.  This is a make-and-take project.  Bring 3-4 old photos or copies to use to make your very own heritage scrapbook page.

Ms. Westfall is an avid and experienced family historian with over twenty years of experience.  Florida-born and raised, she has called Western New York her home for over ten years.

Space is limited; please call (716)372-0200 to reserve your spot.  There will be a $4 materials fee due on the day of the event.  The Olean Public Library is located at 134 N. 2nd St, Olean, NY.  


Dig Into the Past: “Remains to Be Seen” with Craig Braack



Allegany County Historian and patron favorite, Craig Braack will present Remains to Be Seen Wednesday, July 10 @ 7 pm at the Olean Public Library.

Remains to Be Seen is a presentation on the study of gravestone architecture and religious symbolism found in cemeteries from early Puritan times to modern times with an emphasis on local cemeteries. 

Mr. Braack has held the position of Allegany County Historian and County Records Management Officer since 1985. He served in the United States Navy and is a graduate of the State University of New York in Geneseo. 

The Olean Public Library is located at 134 North Second Street, Olean, NY.   For more information please call the Reference Desk at (716) 372-0200 or visit the website at http://www.oleanlibrary.org

Communities Matter @the Olean Public Library

Communities matter @ your library: celebrate National Library Week April 14-20

(OLEAN, NY) –This week, the Olean Public Library  joins libraries in schools, campuses and communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week, a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers.

Libraries today are more than repositories for books and other resources. Often the heart of their communities, campuses or schools, libraries are deeply committed to the places where their patrons live, work and study.  Libraries are trusted places where everyone in the community can gather to reconnect and reengage with each other to enrich and shape the community and address local issues.

Librarians work with elected officials, small business owners, students and the public at large to discover what their communities needs are and meet them.  Whether through offering e-books and technology classes, materials for English-language learners, programs for job seekers or those to support early literacy, librarians listen to the community they serve, and they respond.

“Service to the community has always been the focus of the library,” said Lance Chaffee, Director. “While this aspect has never changed, libraries have grown and evolved in how they provide for the needs of every member of their community.”

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.

The photos below highlight some of the ways that the library supports the community.

Art Openings
Celebrating Our Diverse Community
Highlighting Olean's Community GroupsTechnology HubSummer and Winter Reading ProgramsLocal History EventsHosting Local AuthorsCommunity Wellness

Sand Pumpings Now Available Online

Sand Pumpings was a part-literary, part-history magazine published by the students of Olean High School that featured interviews and articles of local, historical interest in addition to literary pieces. This digital collection features eleven issues dated 1976-1983. Like the content of this publication, the title has historical and geological significance to the area and is best explained by the students who created it:

We, perhaps, spent as much time sifting and searching for a name for the literary magazine as we did interviewing, taping, researching and writing the articles. We wanted a name that would in some way relate to the reader, Olean’s past environment of lumbering, oil, and rivers, as well as Olean’s businesses, industry, trade and pioneer origins.

We finally settled upon what we call a “Pete Brunnerism,” an oil driller’s term, sand pumpings…the process whereby the baler brought up the drilling sands and spilled the sludge and foam into our environment.

Like the drillers of yore, we hope to explore, research, and record our past, our culture, and our pioneer days. We hope to relate an insight through student efforts, to these pioneers, the times, and events that helped shape us as a people. (Source: Sand Pumpings, Vol. 1, No. 1, April 1976)

The Sand Pumpings publications provide a wealth of information for genealogists, researchers, and local historians. In these little magazines readers will be able to learn about various local history topics such as different ethnic groups that settled in the area, stories of the Underground Railroad, the oil industry in Western New York, as well as local celebrities and first-hand accounts of the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 and Prohibition.

Located along the Allegheny River and on several major railroad routes, Olean, NY, was once an important stopping point for travelers moving to other parts of the country and served as a transportation hub for Buffalo, Rochester, New York City, and Pittsburgh, PA. Olean was home to manufacturing industries such as oil, glass, leather, tiles, and machinery. It also served as a bootlegging juncture during Prohibition. Slaves escaping through the Underground Railroad passed through the Olean area en route to Canada. Because of this history, many families from across the United States have roots and connections in Olean, NY. Sand Pumpings tell the stories of the people who once lived in the Olean area.

Each year the Olean Public Library receives numerous requests for local history and genealogy information from people all over the country and the world who had relatives who once lived here. The Sand Pumpings series is such a valuable local history resource and receives many requests for reprints. Digitizing and providing online access to the Sand Pumpings allows patrons from all over the world to freely access this information.

The collection is now part of the New York Heritage digital collection and can be found here: http://www.newyorkheritage.org/sand-pumpings.php

Program on Grave Symbolism Just Announced

We’ve got a couple of interesting programs via video conferencing coming up at the end of April.

History of the Rural Cemetery Movement and Grave Symbolism

April 24, 2012


This is a video conference program in conjunction with Carthage Free Library PCC.

What can a grave stone tell you about a past relative? Why did they select certain images for their markers? This is the perfect introductory class for the genealogist, historian, or cemetery care taker. Harold Sanderson, a Carthage, NY historian and Jefferson County Community College professor, will be presenting a class on the symbolism behind the grave marker images as well as a brief history of the rural cemetery movement.


The How To of Stone Cleaning and Repair

April 26, 2012


This is also a video conference program in conjunction with Carthage Free Library PCC.

Pine pitch, moss, and lichen can be commonly found on grave stones. In addition, older stones may be broken and in need of repair. This class will cover the basics of stone cleaning and repair. Harold Sanderson ran his own business, Sand-Tech and Associates, which specialized in cemetery stone cleaning and repair for eleven years. This is the perfect class for anyone who would like to expand their cemetery maintenance skills, who would like to learn easy ways to maintain family grave stones, or who is interested in starting their own small business.

Genealogy Resources

Are you aware of the genealogy resources that Olean Public Library has both online and in house?  If you go to our Genealogy Page on our website, you will be able to view a list of resources available through the library.  Some of the online sources you can find there are:

  • Olean City Directories from 1882-1915
  • NYS Census for 1855, 1865, and 1875
  • Cemetery Records for Allegany, B’Nai Israel, Chestnut Hill, Five Mile, Mount View, Pleasant Valley, and St Bonaventure’s Cemeteries.
  • Veteran’s Field of Honor

These resources plus many more are available by visiting the library!