The idea of forming a Village Improvement Society was first brought up at the annual meeting of the Bedford Farmers' Club in 1878 by Henry E. Pellew. The group was organized as the Katonah Village IMprovement Association and Mr. Pellew was elected its first president at the first meeting, Oc tober 21, that same year. The purposes of the association were to improve the sanitation, safety and sighliness of the village, and to advance the cultural life. Mr. Pellew was assisted by five vice-presidents and an executive committee of fifteen, out of a total membership of thirty-nine. The Society was incorporated under its present name in 1886. In 1880 a reading room, forerunner of the Library, wasw opened in space rented in a private dwelling. Various village organizations soon began to use it for meetings.
After the move to the new village site, one of the chief concerns of the Society, besides promoting cultural activities such as library facilities, concerts, lectures, exhebitions and book fairs, was for many years the upkeep of the boulevarding on Bedford Road, on The Parkway and near the railroad depot, all on lands owned by the Katonah Land Company. The Town of Bedford took over maintenance in 1958, when it acquired these lands.
The present Executive Committee of the Society numbers thirty and from this Committee nine are the Board of Trustees of the Library. The Society acts as a fund-raising body for the Library, the two entities having been legally separated in 1952. In 1954 the Society fathered a second organization, the Katonah Gallery, which was chartered as an independent corporation in 1956. Other KVIS activities include support and maintenance of the Library and Gallery buildings and the Community Center, caring for the flag-pole, building a town pavillion and providing benches and a community event board, publishing Katonah: The History of a New York Village and its People (McNaughton & Gunn, Inc., 1996) and a Katonah Village Walking Tour, and organizing annual events including a Wine Tasting, Spring Cleanup, Plant Sale, Town Forum, and Halloween Festivities on the Bedford Road Boulevards. KVIS Executive Committee meetings are held at the Library the third Monday of each month, except for a summer recess; with the annual meeting of all members in January.