The Library’s Early Days

I’ve never really been able to pin down an exact founding date of the library (and yes this does bother me a little – I like things neat and tidy and exact). We were founded in the summer of 1953 in Dr. Martha Logan Bailey’s office as a story hour – that is about what I can  come up with. Exactly when that story time became a “library” is also something of a mystery to me, although seemingly it was fairly fast. The library was run solely as a project of the Dillsburg Women’s Club till 1965.

The earliest mention of the Dillsburg Public Library I can find in the archive is a reference in the Gettysburg Times of September 9, 1953 regarding the closure of the library that day due to the opening of school and that the library had permission of the fire company to move to the Community Building. The next mention is in The York Gazette and Daily of December 1, 1953 about the opening in that new space. The library opened there in on December 2 and was available every Wednesday for two non consecutive hours from 3:30pm to 4:30pm and from 7:30pm to 8:30pm. Those were the entirety of the hours, but hours “would be extended depending on patronage.”

The early history of the library includes, at least according to a scan of the newspaper database, book and material donations, fundraisers, and moves (of which there were several in the early years). Some other tidbits include:

  • By early 1954 overdue fines were $.05 for the first week and $.02 per subsequent week.
  • When the Women’s Club was deeded the Matthew Quay property (now Quay Park) in 1956, the Club envisioned it as the future home of the library.
  • By May 1957, hours were Wednesday from 7pm to 9pm and Saturday from 9:30am to noon.
  • The first mention of any government aid is $150 from York County in 1961. The same amount was given in 1963.

The Dillsburg Public Library became an incorporated institution in its own right on January 25, 1965. It’s assets at the time were 6,000 items and $100 cash.

I guess we’ve grown some since then?

Keith Greenawalt, Dillsburg Area Public Library