Three Pennsylvania Libraries to Visit This Year

Did you know that there is an archive of all the libraries in Pennsylvania? I had no idea until the idea for this post came to fruition. It really shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did – one can find anything on the internet – but did it did.

As much as I pride myself on being a self proclaimed “creature of habit,” I’ve wanted to get myself out of my normal routines for a long while now. 2023 seems to me to be the perfect year to do so.

And so I thought one way to break out of my comfort zone would be to visit libraries that I don’t frequent as much. Granted, some of the places on this list are closer to Philadelphia than Pittsburgh, but one can dream, right? Let’s take a look at these five libraries you should visit in 2023.

Aston Public Library

The Aston Public Library has served the Aston, Brookhaven, and Parkside communities for over 30 years. Since 1997, the library has been part of the Aston Community Center.

Source – Aston Public Library Website

Located in one of the oldest districts in the United States, the Ashton Public Library serves the many residents of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The furthest library in this list from my hometown of Pittsburgh, it would take nearly five hours (not to mention potential tools depending in which route you choose) just to visit this library.

A little out of this Pittsburgher’s wheelhouse, but even I dream about spending a day at the Library of Congress. And that would be a trip in of itself just to visit the greatest library in the world. I digress. Back to Ashton.

Just be careful if you pop the address for this library into your GPS – there’s an Ashton Public Library in Iowa, and this Aston library is located several hundred miles away!

They offer consistent events for all age groups, so there just might be something for you. Despite its size, this tiny library still seeks to serve its community better than any library twice its size.

Bedford County Library

Undeniably closer to Pittsburgh than Aston by three hours, I will say that I wish the website for the Bedford County Library was a little more…informative. However, it’s this lack of information (ironic, considering its source!) that intrigues me.

In 1943, school officials conducted a survey of Bedford County.  They found that of the 8679 pupils attending public schools, 900 did not have access to any kind of library.  In other words, about 10% of the school population was entirely missing the wealth which is within the printed volume.

As a result, the Bedford County Library was established, with Miss Margaret Aaron as librarian, and with the county and the state sharing in the costs of the program.  This was the 20th county in Pennsylvania to establish a county-wide library service, and the program had grown by leaps and bounds since it’s establishment in 1944.

Source – Bedford County Library Website

Despite its lack of website design, this library is part of the AskHere librarian program and offers genealogy services. The fact that there’s hardly any information on this library makes me want to visit it even more. Am I weird or what? But at least they have more information available on their Facebook page, so I recommend checking them out there as well.

The Public Library of Catasauqua

Also located a full day’s travel away, The Public Library of Catasauqua sits due north of Philadelphia. It exists inside an old church, and as a nondenominational Christian, the idea of a church becoming a public library makes me very happy indeed.

What a perfect way to bridge communities together. You don’t need to be of any faith to appreciate the fact that someone at some point in time had vision enough to save the building in such a manner.

“The Library was a major planet in my childhood universe. The fact that it was on my block was part of it, as was the fact that my mother seems to have been on its board for my entire life (except for the few years when I filled her seat.)  At ten, I got my first paying job in the Library, shelving books for ten cents an hour for Mrs. Moat.”

Source – Martha Capwell, library’s website

Whether you refer to it as the Public Library of Catasauqua or the Catasauqua Public Library, this unique place definitely has a home in the hearts of its long time patrons.

If I could wish for one thing as I visited all these library websites, it’s that there would be more history on the libraries themselves. Who founded them? Why? When? Who initially saw the need for more literacy minded folks in their area? What hardships did they face during their time here on Earth? Call me a dork all you like, but I enjoy learning what makes a particular library thrive. It can’t be all modern history, right? If you know any history for the libraries represented in today’s post, please leave your knowledge below!

A note: please always visit a library’s website before making the trip in person. Some local libraries/municipalities still require patrons wear masks. However, many are now “visitor’s choice.”

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Budding #historian. Writer of #adventures and #sciencefantasy. Lover of mushrooms and libraries. Fan of #chocolate, #books and Pennsylvania history.
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