December 4, 1759: The Lancaster Library Company formed with 54 members
Location: Home of Benjamin Price at 37 North Queen Street
Librarian: Samuel Magaw.
Benjamin Franklin complimented Lancaster when he said “When the relative wealth and number of inhabitants in the two places are considered, it must be conceded that the Lancaster Library Company began its career under exceptionally favorable circumstances” (Philadelphia started with only 50 members and Lancaster had 54 including Robert Fulton). Annual dues were seven shillings and six pence.
October 22, 1763: Library name changed to Juliana Library Company in honor of patron Lady Juliana Penn, daughter of the Earl of Pomfret and wife of William Penn’s son Thomas. Collection had grown to 712 volumes and membership expanded to 57. New seal created with image of Minerva, globes and motto “ecce comitis itineris” (behold, the companions of the journey)
November 2, 1766: Library moves to home of Judge William Henry (gunsmith, merchant and librarian) on 8 North King Street (site of current Central Market).
1776-1784: Library’s collection was stored while its site served as the Treasury of the new State of Pennsylvania and offices of Treasurer David Rittenhouse.
September 6, 1783-1796: Juliana Library re-established by an act of the Assembly and housed in Caleb Johnson’s house at 1 Center Square (now the site of the Fulton Bank).
1796-1804: Library collection of 2,000 volumes housed in County courthouse. Annual membership dues set at $5.
1809: Joseph Clendenim named librarian.
1811: Circulating library established.
1810: Library moves to home of librarian George Weitzel at 15 North Queen Street.
July 23, 1821: The Jordan sisters establish a second circulating library on East King Street.
July 8, 1829: The Mechanics Library Society Library founded “to promote the improvement of the mechanical arts and education of youth placed in their care.”
June 10, 1831: The Mechanics Society of the City and County of Lancaster incorporated with an Apprentices’ Library as a primary focus.
1838-1839: Mechanics Institute Hall built with Apprentice Library on ground floor.
July 1843: Juliana Library books auctioned to pay off debts with many being bought by the Mechanics Society Library. Auctioneer was Michael McGrann.
1854: Mechanics Society Library moves to second floor of Peter McConomy’s Shoe Store.
1898: A. Herr Smith Library formed in building donated by Eliza Smith at 125 North Duke Street as a free public library.
April 1, 1900: A. Herr Smith Library opens with 3,000 volumes.
1903: A. Herr Smith Library merges with Mechanics Society Library and reorganizes into the Lancaster Free Library with a Mechanics Society $4,330 endowment fund.
April 2, 1909: Helen B. Umble named as part time librarian. Lancaster County Historical Society collection made a temporary part of library’s collection. Lancaster City Council and School Board each appropriate $750 per year to support the library. Library opens with 5,000 volumes and circulation grows to 1,000 per week by end of first year.
1912: Helen E. Meyers named librarian
1920: First library branch opened in Marietta.
1922: 22 Deposit stations opened throughout county.
1925: Columbia and Elizabethtown branches established and children’s room opens.
June 23, 1931: Lancaster is one of first five county libraries to receive state aid.
1932: 42 County deposit stations now open.
February 16, 1933: Lancaster Free Public Library incorporated.
February 12, 1934: A. Herr Smith Library formally changes its name to the Lancaster Free Public Library.
1937: The library purchases its first truck to deliver books to its five branches (Columbia, Elizabethtown, Lititz, Marietta and New Holland) and its 42 deposit stations throughout county.
1937: Book renewal by telephone established.
1937: Lancaster County Commissioners provide $3,000 in annual county aid to library to qualify it for $750 in annual state aid.
November 11, 1938: Effie Detweiler of Columbia donates first bookmobile to library.
1940: Newspaper headline: “Library faces cut in funds. Drastic curtailment of book and magazine purchases feared”
1941: Wheeler Report recommends a $1.00 per capita library subsidy.
April 22, 1947: Agreement making Lancaster Free Public Library and its contents free to all residents of Lancaster County.
1948: Junior Chamber of Commerce lobbies for a ½ mill city library tax. Opposition by city residents to providing city tax dollars to aid county residents causes its failure.
1950: Lancaster City (and later State) Librarian Earnest Doerschuk, Jr. lobbies for a 15¢ per capita library subsidy.
May 17, 1953-November 14, 1954: New Lancaster Free Public Library built on site of A Herr Smith Library on 125 N. Duke Street.
1956: Annual book sale begun by Lancaster Branch of the American Association of University Women and later taken over by Friends of the Lancaster Public Library.
August 1963: Library System of Lancaster County formed under auspices of Lancaster Free Public Library.
February 26, 1969: County Commissioners designate the Lancaster Free Public Library as the county library and District Library Center and provide funding to allow it to serve all county residents in all communities, offering these services to independent libraries:
- Daily interlibrary delivery service
- Reference support service to local libraries;
- Free telephone calls to LCL from local libraries;
- Provision of popular fiction and non-fiction to local libraries;
- Professional guidance in selecting library material
- Purchase and receipt of library materials;
- Cataloging and technical processing of materials for local library collections; and
- Consultation on administrative problems.
April 22, 1969: Lancaster Free Public Library name changed to Lancaster County Library (LCL) and Library System of Lancaster County formed within LCL with Christiana, Elizabethtown, Lititz and Mount Joy Libraries as the first member public libraries. Manheim Area and Southeast (Lancaster) Area Branches and Landisville, Mountville, Marietta, Rohrerstown and Strasburg library centers are administered by LCL.
December 17, 1985: Library contracts with local library members of the Library System of Lancaster County (LSLC) and appoints representative of each library to LCL Board.
December 23, 1986: Library board split into separate LCL and LSLC boards.
June 23, 2021: Library announces the agreement of sale of the library building located at 125 North Duke Street.