As the nation celebrates its birthday this month, why not glimpse into the past by exploring the local library's history section? Libraries in America have been in existence since the late 17th century.
Benjamin Franklin is noted as having founded the first subscription library, The Library Company, as well as the State Library of Pennsylvania, both of which remain in existence today as research facilities, one in Philadelphia and the other in Harrisburg.
Libraries throughout Lycoming County protect treasures of their local communities, such as tombstone inscriptions, obituaries, family histories and church records. The information preserved in these volumes can inspire local residents to honor and cherish the neighborhoods in which they live and work.
Old black and white photographs clearly illustrate how quickly our communities flourished and developed. Many people find it interesting and thought-provoking to look at pictures from their town center and compare them to today. Original handwritten diaries also provide vital insights about life in previous eras.
There are many examples of wonderful treasures from our own Lycoming County Libraries. Montgomery Area Public Library has the Montgomery Mirror newspaper on microfilm from 1849 to 1948 and the Montgomery Historical Society is located downstairs in the Adam Room.
The Jersey Shore Public Library has 30 volumes of Pine Creek Valley Early Families, an essential tool for genealogists. The Konkle Memorial Library has Don King's collection of Montoursville history, plus numerous photographs and newspaper clippings. Many of the libraries also have yearbooks from their local high schools. Visit your library today for more examples.
In addition to local libraries, Pennsylvanians have a wonderful resource in the State Library. The stories of Pennsylvania can be found there in the largest collection of Pennsylvania newspapers as well as the Genealogy and Local History Collection, which consists of family genealogies, state and county histories, atlases, maps and compilations of church and cemetery records.
The collections also include the Pennsylvania Federal Census records on microfilm and federal publications on historical events, which took place in Pennsylvania. The State Library is open to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month.
It is located in the Forum Building, 607 S. Drive, Harrisburg. Many newspapers and genealogical and local history resources are also available from the State Library through the interlibrary loan system of your local library.
Today's libraries offer much more than books. They are agile institutions connecting and building stronger communities through a wide array of print and online resources, programs and services. Pennsylvania libraries offer tools and knowledge to help residents effectively contribute to and connect with society.
Strong local history collections are one way libraries give citizens of all ages the knowledge and skills they need to enrich their lives, contribute effectively in their communities, and participate in civil discourse. For more information on how libraries impact Pennsylvania, visit www.paforward.org.