Library History

The library was founded in 1921 by the Century Club of Pottstown.  The library has been at the location of 500 E. High Street (corner of High and Washington streets) since 1962. The building was once the local post office, and almost 100 years old. The building was started in December of 1916. (Information from: Smith, P. W. (2008). Greetings from Pottstown. Greetings From. . . (Hardcover) p. 40).

100th Anniversary Facts

2021 was the 100th anniversary of the Pottstown Regional Public Library as it is today.  We are looking back on the history of libraries in Pottstown, and the founding of Pottstown Regional Public Library.  Special thanks goes out to Frances Hylton, our former board president, for researching and compiling these fun and interesting facts! 

  • 1810: Pottstown Library Company was charter by an Act of the PA legislature. As one of the earliest features of the community, the library pre-dated the Borough of Pottstown by five (5) years. It was a subscription library which means it was funded by private funds. This library used paid  memberships. In 1850. The Pottstown Library Company was dissolved. (Information from: The Pottstown Historical Society Program, January 2017.)
  • 1845: Another library organization was formed, which started to assume the Pottstown Library Company’s responsibilities.  By 1860 this secondary organization had also dissolved. Materials from the Pottstown Library Company and this secondary organization became the property of the Pottstown School District.  For a long time, the public schools of Pottstown School District provided the only ‘public’ library in Pottstown.  (Information from: The Pottstown Historical Society Program, January 2017.)
  • 1914: The Century Club, a women’s service organization, took on the enormous project of ensuring a public library for Pottstown. Books were collected and made available in rooms at the Kulp Building (located at the intersection of High & Hanover St.) (Information from: The Pottstown Historical Society Program, January 2017.)
  • 1920: The Century Club, started a fundraising campaign for a new library. Sufficient money was raised to establish the new library in the Casselberry mansion at 415 High Street. The new library was opened on August 5th, 1922. (Information from: The Pottstown Historical Society Program, January 2017.)
  • 1923: Miss Freda Gloss was hired as an assistant librarian immediately after graduating from Pottstown High School. The library building at 415 High Street had been open for a little over a year. Miss Gloss was named Head librarian in 1932 and in 1961 she went back to assistant librarian. In 1961 Harold Jenkins became the first college-trained Librarian in the library’s 41 (forty-one) year history. He graduated from Pottstown High School in 1936 and attended Ursinus College and the University of Michigan.
  • 1931: Over the years the Library had experienced critical funding issues. Public campaigns saved the Library from closure several times with contributions from the Borough, School District, and in 1931 from the Community Chest, a precursor to the United Way.  (Information from: The Pottstown Historical Society Program, January 2017.)
  • 1952: The Library was successful enough to expand. The front porch of the former Casselberry mansion was enclosed with glass to create a reading room. The Library Board established a Building Fund for construction of a new building at the same site. (Information from: The Pottstown Historical Society Program, January 2017.)
  • 1958: We have requested to include in this bulletin the invitation that follows. “Gala Open House, the first of its kind ever to be held in the Pottstown Public Library, will be Sunday March 16th, from 2:00pm-5:00pm. This is to publicize the formal opening of the beautiful new children’s room. ” Each teacher is urged to publicize the event in his or her classroom. (Information from: Teachers’ Bulletin – No. 16, March 11.)
  • 1959: At the May 28th meeting of the Board of Directors, Mrs. Prince reported that 42 different communities use the library as well as 215 rural members.
  • 1960: Mrs. E.D. Gudebrod has promised to bequeath $100,000 to the Pottstown Public Library provided it does NOT move from its present location the former Marmaduke Burr Casselberry Mansion.
  • 1961: …and the Library began discussing whether to stay and expand the mansion, construct a new building on the same site or move to a bigger building. (Information from: The Pottstown Historical Society Program, January 2017.)
  • 1962: After negotiations with the Government Services Administration and the help of PA Senator Schweiker, the old Post Office building was transferred to the borough for one dollar ($1.00).  (Information from: The Pottstown Historical Society Program, January 2017.)
  • 1963: Borough Control is Endorsed by Library Board (Headline from the March 19th 1963 issue of The Mercury). Article says “All finances will be handled through the borough manager’s office in the future.
  • 1963: Borough Solicitor Checks Code on Library Control (Headline from the Marth 20th issue of The Mercury). Article says C. Edmund Wells, borough solicitor, finds that PA Library Code requires the Library Board to have exclusive control of the Libraries financial affairs.
  • 1963: Librarian G.L. Yashur checked the full list of the 1,780 books purchased for the White House Library against our catalogue of books in Pottstown. He found that 292 of them were available from Pottstown’s Library. The list of 1,780 books was originally published in the New York Times.  (Information from the August 29th issue of The Mercury).
  • 1963: Library Volunteers Move Mountain of Books with Ease (Headline from the September 9th issue of The Mercury.) Article states: A task force of 120 moved 12 tractor trailer loads of books and periodicals onto shelves in the new library in a neat eight and a half hours (8.5hrs), according to Barry Rohrbach, co-chairman of the Jaycees committee which spearheaded the well-oiled operation. 
  • 1963: New Library Premiere is Smash Hit (Headline from the September 11th issue of The Mercury) Subheadline: Over 1000 persons inspect modern facilities. A check of the number of books taken out the first day shows that many of the visitors were doing more than browsing. Nine hundred (900) books were circulated by the library during its debut.
  • 1963: Local Library Plan Popular in Nation (Headline from the October 1st issue of The Mercury) The “Pottstown Plan” is becoming extremely popular with library people throughout the nation. They want to find out how the borough got an empty post office free-of-charge to use as a library. It was the first such Federal grant of a vacated post office property for community library use. 
  • 1964: Library is Awarded $100,000 from Trust fund (Headline from The Mercury) The court decided the library should get the $100,000 although it did move out of 415 High Street. However, the library must wait 21 years before it gets the clear title to the old Post Office Building. Meanwhile, the library can draw on the trust income. Heirs of Mrs. E.D. Gudebrod approved of the court’s decision.
  • 1974: Librarian’s Report, June 11th- Mrs. Cathy McDevitt is working on a plan for a Library service subsidy from Upper Pottsgrove, similar to the arrangements with Lower and West Pottsgrove. The plan was voted down.  Commissioners suggested that she present a signed petition to show the interest of the residents. She is working on this. 
  • 1974: Librarian’s Annual Report to the Board by Mrs. Bauerle- The chairman of the Renovation Committee reported that the changes to the unused basement of the library were completed and the Children’s Department was opened on April 13th, 1974.  Mrs. Kaplan, Children’s Librarian, held the children’s summer programming at the YWCA during construction.
  • 1974: Librarian’s Annual Report, Part 2- It should be noted here for the record,  that there is no access to the second floor by stairs. The elevator will be reconnected to this  area when stairs are installed.  The Library Development office of the State thought the stairs to the mezzanine went up to the second floor, and thus did not require any additional stairs. The unused space will soon be needed for keeping periodicals and books, as well as for providing a larger meeting room, as our present one is too small for any popular program. 
  • 1974: Librarian’s Annual Report, Part 3- A new exhibit is displayed in the glass case in the main library area each month. These are provided by local friends and members who are willing to share their collections and hobbies.  Original paintings by members of the Pottstown Area Artists Guild are displayed each month, on the walls of the first floor of the library. 
  • 1983: Pottstown Mercury, August 13: A fundraising drive with a goal of $500,000 dollars will begin early next year to renovate the Pottstown Public Library, said board president, Marilyn Chapis. Plans include a stair tower on the east side to open the second floor for use. The steering committee for the fundraising drive also wants to flatten the parking lot down to the basement level, eliminating the hump there now.
  • 1986: Pottstown Mercury, October 11: Doris Kohler, council’s delegate to the library board, said the board is thinking of naming the library the “Pottstown Area Library” or the “Tri-County Library”. I promised to ask how you fellows feel about it. “Furious” said Frank Ciprero, 2nd ward…
  • 1996: Pottstown Mercury, April 11: The Mercury published a full page announcing the 75th anniversary of the Pottstown Public Library. Special events began April 12th with the library hosting a Dessert Spectacular and French Circus. A month-long program of festivities was launched on that date. 
  • 2009: The Board of Directors approved the change of the library’s name to Pottstown Regional Public Library at their July 2009 meeting. 
  • 2015: Pottstown Mercury, January 16: Headline- Library gets $300,000 grant to fix building. The borough was awarded the grant for the library from the Keystone Fund. The grant requires a 50% local match. It will be used to repair and improve the front entrance to make it more accessible to the handicapped, as well as upgrades of engineering systems: lights, electric, cable access, and security systems.
  • 2016: Main floor renovations were completed.
  • 2017: Clara’s Garden was dedicated by the Friends of the Library for Clara Hoss who had worked at the library for over 50 years. 
  • 2022: Mindy Lipsky, named Executive Director.
  • 2022: May 12th, was our 100th anniversary celebration.  We received proclamations from the state.

Thank you to everyone who made our 100th anniversary a success!

2023 and Beyond- The Next 100 Years

As we look forward to the next 100 years the library is making sure the next generation of library lovers has a place to go! 

So far in 2023:

  • Executive Director was featured on Porchcast Pottstown in February. (May need Facebook to watch.)
  • Executive Director was featured onTriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Chat podcast in March. (Includes a tour of the building.)
  • In April we received the Bronze Star Designation from the PaForward Star Program.
  • In July we received the Silver Star Designation from the PaForward Star Program.
  • In September we received the Gold Star Designation from the PaForward Star Program.
  • November 16th 2023, Rob Lesher of PaForward presented us with our Gold Star Plaque. Watch the presentation here
  • We launched our library mascot, Paige! Read more about Paige

2024: Library History Database

2024 promises to be an exciting year.