General Information



The Long Island Room is located on the lower level of the Main Smithtown Library at 1 North Country Road, Smithtown, New York 11787.  For general inquiries or to set up an appointment to use the collection please call 631-360-2480, x197 or submit an email message using the form below.

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Programs and Events


The 2016 Long Island Room Program Series will begin in March!  This year's series will focus on Long Island's maritime history and will feature programs about Long Island's enduring relationship with the sea.


Cold Spring Harbor and the Business of Whaling

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 7:00- 8:30 pm

In 1836, the Jones brothers and thirty-three other investors purchased the first of several whaling ships in a small fleet that would eventually be known as the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Company.  While not every resident of the hamlet was directly involved in the business, many were and the local networks that formed as a result shaped the enduring identity of Cold Spring Harbor as a whaling town.  Learn more about the history of the whaling industry on Long Island as archaeologist and PhD Candidate (The Graduate Center, CUNY) Jenna Wallace Coplin discusses her research on the development and significance of the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Company during the mid-19th century.  To register for this program, please click here.


An Isle by the Sea: Discovering Long Island's Maritime History

On view starting Tuesday, February 16, 2016 through December 2016

For centuries, Long Island's inhabitants have depended upon the bounty of the sea.  From food to transportation, from industry to recreation, the sea has provided Long Islanders with a variety of important resources.  Learn more about Long Island's maritime history through a selection of related documents and objects from the Long Island Room collection.



An important event in the early history of the Smithtown Library was the establishment of the Richard H. Handley Collection of Long Island Americana, a special local history archives.  Richard Hockman Handley (1848-1914) was a wealthy businessman who lived with his family in neighboring Hauppauge.  Mr. Handley dedicated much of his time and money to one of his greatest interests-- the collection of rare materials related to the local history of Long Island and the surrounding regions.  With the help of various associates and dealers, Mr. Handley amassed a truly remarkable collection of books, documents, manuscripts, maps, atlases and ephemera.
In 1921, Richard Handley's widow, Mary, loaned her husband's extensive collection of rare and valuable local history materials to the Smithtown Library.  Five years later, in 1926, Mrs. Handley, with the consent of her four children donated the collection to the library outright along with a fund for its maintenance.  She wrote the following to the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees on April 2, 1926: "I desire to have a guarantee from your board that the Library of Americana presented to the Smithtown Library, will be held always as a memorial to Richard H. Handley."
Mrs. Handley's request has been, is still and will be continue to be met by the Smithtown Library.  The Richard H. Handley Collection of Long Island Americana (more commonly referred to as the Long Island Room) is recognized as one of the most important local history collections on Long Island and its staff regularly welcomes researchers of all kinds.  Over the years the collection has continued to grow, mostly through the donations of other local individuals, families and organizations.



The Richard H. Handley Collection of Long Island Americana (more commonly referred to as the Long Island Room) is a special local history archives located within the library's main building in Smithtown. The collection is comprised of approximately 8,400 books, 750 maps and 200 boxes of archival and manuscript materials. Additionally, the collection includes historic atlases, account books, scrapbooks, audiovisual materials, paintings, engravings, photographs, daguerreotypes, tintypes, microfilm, newspapers, postcards, posters, subject files and ephemera.
Throughout its existence the Long Island Room's collecting strategy has focused primarily on documenting the settlement and history of physical Long Island. As such, most collection materials relate in some way to Long Island, New York City, lower Connecticut and colonial New England (where settlers came from to populate the Long Island region). These materials cover a wide variety of subject areas and include geographies, histories, biographies, law books, periodicals, local town records, writers' manuscripts, religious sermons, military accounts from the American Revolution through to World War II, items related to specific aspects of Long Island agriculture, science and technology, literature, art and architecture, transportation and industry. The collection also reflects a special emphasis placed on Smithtown's local history that captures the cultural, political, economical, environmental, genealogical and religious trends that have changed over time in the community. These materials document the founding, settlement and history of the Smithtown area and consist mainly of ledgers and papers from local individuals, families, businesses and organizations.
Some of the highlights of the Long Island Room's collection include an original copy of Daniel Denton's 1670 book, A Brief Description of New York: Formerly Called New-Netherlands; a 1770 broadside from the Oysterponds area of Long Island recounting the deaths of four men lost at sea; a manuscript copy of Gabriel Furman's 1824 publication, Antiquities of Long Island; a log that chronicles the voyages of four whaling ships-- the Neptune, Sabina, Niantic and Hamiliton from 1839 to 1850; a collection of early twentieth century primary source materials relating to the construction of Motor Parkway and the Vanderbilt Cup Races; several early Dutch maps of Long Island and the surrounding coastline dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; documents and materials relating to the establishment and early history of the Long Island Rail Road; documents, sermons and manuscripts related to the history of slavery on Long Island and the area's Underground Railroad routes; religious tracts and sermons from the eighteenth century; and a representative selection of Long Island atlases, mostly dating back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 



The Long Island Room is committed to identifying, collecting, managing, preserving and rendering accessible materials of enduring value that relate to the settlement, history and culture of Long Island, with a special emphasis on Smithtown and the surrounding region.  Collection areas encompass history, geography, biography, genealogy, art, literature, the environment, science and religion.  Since the Long Island Room is a paper-based archives the collection's main focus is on materials such as primary documents, local family and business records, scrapbooks, manuscripts, rare books, maps, atlases, photographs, postcards, newspapers, posters and the like.  These materials, as well as a variety of secondary sources are available to the patrons of the Smithtown Library and outside researchers.  In addition, the Long Island Room strives to heighten the local community's awareness of its resources through a broad range of outreach efforts that include exhibits, programs, digitization projects, oral history recordings and coordinated research projects with companion institutions.