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OUR HISTORY AND MISSION
Easton Area Public Library Directors
 

Our History
The Easton Library Company was formed in 1811 when 100 shares of stock were sold to the public. Shareholders then supported the Library with yearly subscription fees. Only subscribers could borrow books. Within four years the Company could afford to pay a librarian $1.50 each month and to begin construction of a building on land donated by Samuel Sitgreaves. That red brick building still stands at the corner of North Second and Church Streets. For 90 years it served as the public library, located across the street from Easton's secondary school. At the time of the Civil War, the Company extended borrowers' status to students enrolled in the high school. In 1895 the Library Association was formed for the purpose of creating a library funded by the school board open to all residents of the city. The reorganization took place in 1901. The Library's new status allowed Easton's citizens to apply to Andrew Carnegie for a library building grant. Carnegie was so impressed with their plans that he donated $50,000 for a new building if the residents would supply the land and get the municipality to agree to continue to fund the Library's operating expenses.

The best available piece of property for a library turned out to be the oldest graveyard in town, which by that time was no longer in use. The handsome Carnegie building of blue stone from New Jersey, local bricks, and granite was completed in 1903. Patrons entered the building by climbing a stairway flanked by white marble walls to a landing of tile inlaid with patterns in green, red and yellow. Faux green marble columns supported the high ceilings. The various rooms were entered through heavy oak and glass doors topped with arched windows. The first Director set about installing a "state of the art" long distance phone. Much thought, time, and effort was put into landscaping the grounds which took several years. At one time bird houses were distributed among the trees to enhance the park-like atmosphere.


By 1911 it was apparent that more room was needed for books and a second Carnegie grant provided for additional stack space on the north side of the building. 1941 brought the addition of a "loft" of stacks built on top of the book stacks in the addition.


The Library was designated one of Pennsylvania's 28 District Library Centers in1963 and in 1968 the building was again expanded. This addition, on the east side of the building, was designed by local architect Hugh Moore, Jr. The effort of the Friends of the Library secured a National Endowment for Humanities grant in 1985 to provide for the preservation of the Library's historic materials which date from the founding of Northampton County. The collections are named in honor of the first 20th century librarian, Henry Marx, through whose efforts they were greatly expanded and enriched.


Palmer Township completed a handsome building to house a branch of the Library in 1986.


The Library totally automated its procedures in 1993 and began providing Internet access to the public in 1996 quickly moving to graphical interfaces and broad band connections. The need to upgrade automation services in 2001 led Easton, along with the Allentown and Bethlehem Public Libraries and the library of Moravian College, to create the Lehigh Valley Library System, an automation consortium.

Barbara Bailey Bauer, District Consultant November 28, 2001

Our Mission Statement
The mission of the Easton Area Public Library is to promote literacy, to advance lifelong learning, and to contribute to the development of an active and informed community of citizens.

In support of this mission:
  • The Library educates, entertains and challenges children. Appreciation of literature and the arts is fostered and patrons of all ages explore the vast body of collective knowledge and information as well as experience the creations of fine artists, composers, writers, musicians, film makers, and dramatists.
  • The Library offers all citizens the right to obtain information and knowledge freely.A strong library is essential for dynamic community and a free society.
  • The Library strives to maintain an awareness of new developments in this age of information and, when feasible, makes an effort to implement new technology and services in ways that make them equally available and accessible to all citizens in our service area.
  • The Library, as the District Library Center for Eastern Northampton County and Monroe County, promotes and supports local libraries through the provision of consultation and adjunct services.