Nestled within the town library of the small Catskill Mountain town of Phoenicia, New York, is the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection, where you check out a rod as easily as a book.
Phoenicia sits along the Esopus Creek, a 65-mile-long tributary of the Hudson River that has lured fly fisherman for more than a century. Trout has always been the catch of the day.
The Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection originated as the Anglers Parlor, a rustic nook on the second floor of the Phoenicia Library. It officially opened in 1996, after the death of Jerry Bartlett, a local fishing guide and president of the Catskill Chapter of Trout Unlimited. A dim room with a campy feel, the Parlor housed not only books about fishing but tackle, flies, historic photos, and artifacts. The 800-volume archive became the largest circulating collection of books about fishing in the Northeast. Card-carrying library patrons could also borrow a pole and cast away.
In March 2011, a fire gutted the library building, claiming the Bartlett books and rods. A few pieces of furniture and some photos and artifacts were salvaged, and in March 2015, the fisherman’s oasis was rededicated on the second floor of the newly rebuilt library. With new poles to lend, more than 600 books stocking the shelves, and occasional piscine events and programs, the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection is now an even sunnier shrine to Catskills fishing.