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Library History


The Library’s roots go back to 1794 and the founding of the “Norristown Library Company” by 90 families residing in Lower Merion, Norriton, Plymouth, Providence, Whitemarsh, Whitpain and Worcester Townships. The Library was formally incorporated in 1796. One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Thomas McKean, signed the charter issued in March 1796 establishing the corporation.

History of the Library

1794 Founded by 90 Montgomery County families as a private, subscription library
1796 Incorporated as a private corporation on April 30, the Norristown Library Company, with its charter signed by Thomas McKean, a signer of the Declaration of Independence
1824 First building on 100 block of West Main St., Norristown, costing $153.43 and built on land given by the Pawling family members, who were among the library’s founders
1853 Same building removed to DeKalb and Penn Sts.
1859 New building at 516 DeKalb St.
1898 Royersford Free Public Library founded. Became a branch of Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library in 1995
1907 Conshohocken Free Library founded. Became a branch of Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library in 1973
1934 Schwenksville Library established. Perkiomen Valley Library at Schwenksville became a branch in 1996
1937 McCann Library, only public library in Norristown which was operated by the Norristown School District, closed and Norristown citizens began to prevail on the Norristown Library Company to become public
1942 Changed name to the “Norristown Public Library” with financial backing of the Norristown Borough Council
1947 Montgomery County Bookmobiles founded by Mrs. Harry Rossiter at the Abington Library Society (now the Jenkintown Library) and supported by the Montgomery County Commissioners from November 7, 1947
1954 Moved to 542 DeKalb St., in a library building dedicated as a War Memorial
1955 West End Children’s Branch opened at 621 Haws Ave.
1962 Designated by the State as a District Center after the passage of the Pa. Library Code, for which Norristown Library Director Pearl Frankenfield was the Pennsylvania Library Association lobbyist in Harrisburg for the code’s passage.
1966 Purchased adjacent building at 540 DeKalb St.
1968 Merged with the Montgomery County Free Library, which ran the Montgomery County Bookmobiles from Markley St. offices, and renamed “Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library”.
Closed West End Children’s Branch
Purchased additional building at 526-528 DeKalb St.
1969 Purchased adjacent building at 550 DeKalb St.
1970 Opened branch: Upper Perkiomen Valley Library at Red Hill, under the direction of the late Patricia A. Dobbin, then Head of Extension Services and later Executive Director of the library
1973 Opened branch: Conshohocken Free Library, under the direction of Carol E. Straub, the library’s Assistant Director Library Board purchased property at Swede and Elm Sts. as site for new library
1974 Established Books By Mail program to serve homebound residents of Montgomery County
1975 Established Backyard Library van program Friends of Montgomery District Library Center incorporated in Harrisburg
1977 Moved to new building at Swede and Elm Sts., built by the Montgomery County Commissioners
1979 Launched “Mini-Bookmobile” for senior citizens
1992 Launched “Books-Go-Round” bookmobile for children in day care
1994 Library automation system, called “Catalyst,” became operational
1995 Established branch: Royersford Free Public Library, under the direction of Laurie Tynan, the library’s Executive Director
MCLINC (Montgomery County Library and Information Network Consortium) founded
1996 Established branch: Perkiomen Valley Library at Schwenksville, under the direction of Laurie Tynan, the library’s Executive Director
2001 “Books and Me” begun under grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
2002 Computer Lab, funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lillian Smith Marx, opened.
2003 Library website launched:
2004 Library celebrated its 210th Anniversary.
Library launched revitalized Books by Mail program serving homebound residents of Montgomery County.
2006 Joined the Ask Here, PA service, which allows live chat and reference librarians 24/7!
Library began offering digital book collections.
2007 Installed public wireless internet access service at MC-NPL and its four branches.