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Ken Pollack Childrens Wing

OSTERHOUT FREE LIBRARY 1889-2014monalisa

Pick up a commemorative, full-color copy of our Library history booklet at any Osterhout Free Library location!

View the booklet HERE as a pdf...browse, download, or print it!







Staff members form "125"!


Top 10 Interesting Facts

about the Osterhout Free Library:

10) When prominent merchant and real estate magnate Isaac Smith Osterhout died in 1882, he willed a substantial portion of his estate for the establishment of a free public library.

9) In 1887, the board of directors hired Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey decimal system, to act as an advisor.

8) The library trustees hired Hannah Packard James to be the first head librarian.

7) The original library collection (approximately 10,000 volumes) consisted of books from Osterhout's personal collection, part of the Atheneum (a local subscription library), and 9,500 volumes purchased from Charles Scribner and Sons.

6) The Osterhout Free Library opened its doors to the public on January 29th, 1889 and was one of the first libraries in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

5) Early achievements included the opening of one of the first children's departments in the country in 1904.

4) The library’s stack wing was added in 1908, a two-story addition to the back of the building in 1966 and the Ken L. Pollock Children's Wing in 1982.

3) In the flood caused by Hurricane Agnes in 1972, the library lost more than 69,000 books as well as all its magazines and newspapers. A massive recovery effort was launched and by 1975 the book collection had been rebuilt to 124,000 volumes.

2) The library closed briefly for extensive interior renovations in 1999, switching to a new computerized checkout system and the now-familiar yellow library cards.  

And the # 1 Fact about the Osterhout Free Library (drumroll please):

1)    The Library underwent extensive renovation on the outside of the building throughout 2008 and 2009. Work progressed on the roof, the masonry, the stain-glass windows and the landscaping. The beautiful results can be seen today.

And here are some interesting facts about the three Osterhout Library Branches:

-       In 1922, the North Branch opened at 676 North Washington Street. Miss Julia Stockett was the first North Branch supervisor.  Almost 90 years later, in October 2010 the library found its permanent home at 29 Oliver St. in a building, like the central library, which was formerly a church.

-       In 1924, the South Branch opened at the corner of Stanton and Airy Streets. In early 2010, after a complete interior renovation, the South Branch grandly reopened with a bright new look and a fresh new layout.

-       On November 4th, 1968, the Plains Township Branch was opened to the public with Ms. Margaret Jenkins as the first branch supervisor.



Some librarians came dressed in 1889 finery for the 125th Anniversary on January 29, 2014!


Read an editorial that ran in the paper on the day the library opened.
Check back for more information on special anniversary programs througout 2014!