State Library of Pennsylvania

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The State Library of Pennsylvania is one of the largest research libraries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Until 1971 it was known as the Pennsylvania State Library.[1] The Office of Commonwealth Libraries, within the Pennsylvania Department of Education, has holdings in almost every area of human concern. It provides information and materials from its collections and automated resources to state government, state institutions and the general public. It is also charged with maintaining a definitive collection of publications of all agencies of the Commonwealth and serves as a Regional Depository for United States Government Publications.

Mission: "The State Library provides information for State Government and citizens while collecting and preserving our written heritage through materials published for, by and about Pennsylvania."


The State Library of Pennsylvania is located at Commonwealth Ave. & Walnut St. (Forum Building) in downtown Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It has been at this location since 1931.[1] The library is open to the public year-round.


The collection that would later become part of the Pennsylvania State Library began on December 5, 1745 with Benjamin Franklin and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[1] The collection grew over time. Different factions of the state government collected their own materials until a law was passed in 1816 to improve the state library. The law combined the various state collections into one and allotted money to maintain the collection and for a librarian.[1]

The library was moved to Harrisburg in 1822. During most of the 1800s the library was mainly used by members of the legislature and other people with important positions in the state. The materials in the collection mostly pertained to the needs of those people, so the collection was not diverse.[1]

William Henry Egle was instrumental in updating the library. He was the state librarian from 1887 to 1898. He broadened the collection to include materials focusing on history. The building the library was in at the time was not suitable for storing and preserving the collection. In 1894 the collection was moved to a new building.[1]

George E. Reed was state librarian from 1899 to 1902. During that time he created a catalog of the entire collection. It was not the first catalog of the collection, but it had been many years since one had been attempted.[1]

The next state librarian, Thomas Lynch Montgomery, made significant advances to the library. His tenure lasted from 1903 to 1921. He worked with other library organizations to improve access of materials to people across the state, and the state library collection was vastly diversified.[1] Montgomery was instrumental in the development of the Pennsylvania State Archives in 1903 and in the State Museum of Pennsylvania in 1905, which were divisions of the library.[1] However, in 1941 these two divisions were separated from the state library.[1] It was a founding member of the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lear, Bernadette A. (2013). "A state library transformed: Pennsylvania, 1878-1921". Information & Culture. 48 (1).

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Coordinates: 40°15′52″N 76°52′51″W / 40.26450°N 76.88077°W / 40.26450; -76.88077