Our History


Public support for library facilities runs in a strong and deep current through Hanover's character. Our forbearers' high regard for education led them to organize a subscription library as early as 1817. In 1911 Hanover established a free public library which has been well used and strongly supported by the entire community.

Reverend Jacob H. Wiestling, a learned, sociable, and energetic minister of the German Calvinist Church (Emmanuel Reformed) was instrumental in organizing 81 people into the 1817 subscription library – quite an accomplishment considering that the 1820 Census Data reflects 946 residents of Hanover. There are no records of how long Wiestling's library continued, but it appears likely it evolved into the nucleus of the Reformed Library which served a broad spectrum of the town through the Union SabbathSchool, operated by Lutheran and Reformed from 1828 into the 1840's. Students in the school were rewarded for learning their lessons with library privileges, which were highly valued at the time when books were expensive and scarce. The Reformed Library became a project of the Wirt family and was donated to the Public Library in 1911. Henry Wirt, Jr. noted that only one half the populace understood or spoke much English "and of the rest a large proportion preferred the German in their intercourse with each other. Yet they were willing to support a library in a language they hardly understood but which they felt was in line of right education in this country."

In 1875, Dr. J.P. Smith breathed hope into the dream for a free public library in Hanover by providing in his will that upon his death and that of his wife, his estate should be used by the Borough of Hanover for a library. On June 26, 1907, Gabriella Smith died, leaving an estate of $42,036.10. In the meantime, Dr. Smith's gesture had kindled an interest in others. In 1879, George Metzgar donated $1,900 "to aid in the building of a Town Hall, part of which is to be set aside and used as a library and reading room." When Jacob Wirt donated Wirt Park he also included a clause permitting use of the site for construction of a library reading room.

The Wirt option has never been used, but the Metzgar money was invested in the library endowment in its entirety. Through the interest of the Civic League, a group of public spirited citizens working for civic improvements, a Library Association was formed to bring the dream to life. Through this organization, Mr. and Mrs. H.E. Young announced their decision to donate the library building to the town in honor of their deceased son, Edward Etzler Young. On October 3, 1911 the Young Memorial Library was officially presented to the town.

The nucleus of the original 5,000 volumes was donated by St. Mark's Lutheran Church and the Public School Library which had been supported since 1880 by donations from parents, students and teachers. The Civic League paid $500 for the creation of a children's department. The Beethoven Club took upon itself the development of a music section and the Medical Association a section on medicine. Many citizens made personal donations.

In accordance with the Smith bequest, the library was given to the Borough for maintenance of the grounds and building, while the endowment and finances were to be directed by the Library Board of Governors on which at least three bank presidents were to sit at all times. In the late sixties, the endowment and other finances were turned over to the Borough and the library receives financial aid from the State, and with the formation of the York County Library System in 1974, aid from the county.

In 1967, the Wolcott Wing was added through the hard work of the Friends of the Library, under the direction of David Malcolm. The wing was named for Mabel Champlin Wolcott, the first librarian. Another expansion project was undertaken at the beginning of the 21st century to update and enhance the spaces available for library services and the community. At the time of the building projects completion in 2006, the library was renamed for local attorney, Louis Guthrie.