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1894-2019 Celebrating 125 Years of the Butler Area Public Library

McKean St building before renovation.jpg

Pictured above: (Left) The 1921 library building, photographed shortly before renovations began in 1967.

(Center) Artist's rendering of the 1967 renovation project. (Right) The library today.

The Butler Area Public Library was established in February 1894 by the local women’s literary society. This first library began modestly, with just 432 books in a rented room in the Duffy Building on W. Jefferson St. The group paid for rent and books through a “Woman’s Industrial Exchange” shop on-site, where women sold handmade items and baked goods on consignment. According to Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from the time, the address shared the block with stables, a fishmonger, and a grocer.

The library would move three more times (including a tenure in the Little Red Schoolhouse building on E. Jefferson St.) before the funds were raised to construct a permanent, dedicated library at the present N. McKean St. location. The N. McKean St. property we still use today opened to the public on September 20, 1921, funded in part by the Carnegie Foundation, and through the fundraising efforts of the citizens of Butler. The building doubled in size in 1967 following a major renovation project. We expanded again in 1988 with the acquisition of the neighboring Luther Hall building from the First English Lutheran Church, and completed another major renovation project in 2003. In 1987, the Butler Area Public Library joined with other county libraries to form the Butler County Federated Library System.

1908 open house invitation Little Red Sc

1908 Invitation to the opening of

the library on Jefferson St. (the "Little Red Schoolhouse" building).

Above all, for 125 years the Butler Area Public Library has been a resource for all in the city of Butler to pursue information, education, and possibilities. The first branch library was established in 1911 on the impoverished Red Row in Lyndora. The Red Row reading room was stocked with books and newspapers in the foreign languages of Butler’s immigrant communities, and offered English classes. For decades, Butlerites of all ages have visited the public library for storytimes, homework help, research, job search assistance, meeting spaces, new hobbies, and relaxation. The library has been, and will continue to be, a vital resource for the community.

The library’s collection evolved along with public interest from its start. The first reading rooms offered magazines and newspapers besides books, and offerings expanded to include film strips, vinyl records, framed artwork, video tapes, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, games, and digital downloads. From that initial collection of 432 books, the Butler Area Public Library has grown exponentially, with a current collection of more than 103,000 items and providing access to thousands more titles online.

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1986: The first computerized checkout system is installed.

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1919 Library rules.

Watch a Timeline of the Library's History

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