Library History

Haverford Township Free Library’s beginning dates back to Tuesday December 12, 1933 when Vera Golden, then Editor of the Haverford Township News, called a meeting to discuss plans to create a public library in Haverford Township. In attendance were many of the township’s civic and political leaders; among them: Mr. John H. Hughes, Brookline School Principal; Miss Edith P. Hannum, Fourth Ward Commissioner; Mrs. Henry A. Bomberger, President of the Oakmont-South Ardmore Women’s Club; Mrs. Fred L. Keene, Library Chair of the Oakmont-South Ardmore Women’s Club; Mrs. Walter N. Norley, Mrs. H. Royer Smith, and Mrs. John Larney all from the Brookline Club; Mrs. Douglas Gould, President of the College Women’s Club; Mrs. William Martin of the Llanerch Women’s Club; Mrs. Chester E. Andrews President of the West Brookline-Llanerch Manor Women’s Civic Club; Mrs. Louis J.R. Holst of the West Brookline-Llanerch Manor Women’s Civic Club; Mrs. David Marchand of the Auxiliary of Manoa Post No. 667 American Legion; Mrs. Elmer R. Patterson President of the Interdenominational Community Mothers Council; Miss Genevieve Geiger, Haverford Township Senior High School Librarian; and Miss E. Matthews of the State Library Extension Bureau.

Miss Matthews was specifically invited to advise the group on important matters to consider when creating a public library. Miss Matthews stressed that the library must be centrally located, that a trained librarian be hired as soon as the library was to open, and that a library association be formed.

A second meeting was scheduled for January 26, 1934. After organizing a Library Committee, chaired by Miss Hannum, it was decided that a subcommittee be formed to look into obtaining temporary quarters and providing for a preliminary book collection. It was also decided that any information on the above be presented to the Commissioners at their meeting on Monday February 5, 1934 “since it was pointed out that if a library were to be funded, it would eventually become a township institution and therefore a consideration of the township administration in its maintenance and conduct.”

Prior to the third organizing meeting on Friday February 2, 1934, the Library Committee sent letters to 17 township organizations, inviting a representative to attend the Friday evening meeting. The original group was anxious to have community wide support.

At the February 2, 1934 meeting, Miss Edith P. Hannum became temporary President of the Association, Miss Vera Golden, Secretary, and Mr. John H. Hughes became Treasurer and Chair of the Constitution and By-Laws Committee. Association dues were set at $.50 per year.

The temporary executive committee decided to lease 1627 East Darby Road, Brookline from the Pennsylvania Company for $10.00 per month. Promises of the first 3 months rent were received from the Penfield Civic Association, the Brookline Parent-Teacher Association, and the Haverford Township Chamber of Commerce. Mrs. Edward H. Kress, President of the Brookline Club, announced that the club’s library would be placed in the public library once it was established.

The next meeting was scheduled for February 9, 1934. Notices of the meeting were again sent to township organizations. The group was especially interested in having representation from organizations that had not attended or had not received an invitation to the February 2nd meeting.

A constitution for the Haverford Township Free Library Association was adopted at the February 9th meeting. By-laws were read and discussed but tabled for adoption. The by-laws were subsequently presented on March 9, 1934 by Mr. John H. Hughes and adopted. Dues to the Association were also discussed and changed. The dues’ structure became $.50 annually for contributing members, $2.00 annually for active members (also known as donors), and $100.00 for life membership. The last order of business was the creation of two committees, the Library and Equipment Committee and the Publicity Committee. Committee members were assigned to each.

The next meeting was held March 28, 1934 at which time lots were drawn for Trustee’s terms of office (staggered limits). Mr. William R. Toal was selected as Solicitor and officers were elected to serve until the February 1935 Annual Meeting.

Five months worth of rent had now been promised by various organizations. The Trustees, feeling secure, authorized the President to sign a lease at $10.00 per month. The store was accepted in its “present condition.”

The group was now in earnest. An Association Membership Committee and an Employment Committee were formed. And, it was decided that as soon as the lease was signed, fire insurance would be purchased for the library’s furniture and books.

Miss Helen Sharpless was appointed to the position of Librarian on April 25, 1934 at $15.00 a week “with the understanding that it be considered as a week to week employment, with no obligation for notice of discontinuance upon either side.” The Bureau of extension of the State Library of Harrisburg volunteered to donate supplies “necessary for the establishment of a library.” The next meeting was set for May 16, 1934.

At the May meeting, Miss Sharpless presented “rules for the use of borrowers,” the bills were approved, and a date was established for the library’s grand opening, May 28, 1934. At the time of the opening, the library had approximately 2,200 books, 1,000 of which were donated by the Brookline Women’s Club. Hours of operation were Monday through Friday 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM and 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM and Saturday 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM. The library was closed on Sunday. Circulation from May 1934 to December 1934 was 17,726. The library had 1,794 registered borrowers.

The first annual Haverford Township Free Library Association meeting was postponed until Friday March 1, 1935. A history of the library was given and the announcement made that the Township Commissioners had approved a library appropriation in the amount of $2,500. The month prior, at the February 1, 1935 Library Trustees meeting, “it was pointed out that unless an appropriation was received from the township it would be necessary to close the library.” This was harsh news after all the collaborative work and only nine months in operation. The School Board had approved an appropriation of $100.

Mr. Toal, at the April 26, 1935 meeting, reported that all was in place to have the Association incorporated. He stated that as soon as the Charter “was made up and signed by the members” he would submit the documents and send the charter to the Court for their signature. The date on the Articles of Incorporation is May 10, 1935.

By 1936, the library had outgrown the 1625 Darby Road storefront. At the September 25, 1936 Board of Trustees meeting a letter was read from Luther A. Harr, Secretary of Banking and M.J. Flanagan (for Horace C. Whitman), Deputy Receiver. The letter stated:

    The Haverford Township Bank Building is for sale and I believe that an offer of $17,500 cash would be acceptable to the Receiver and to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, although you understand that any agreement of sale would have to have the approval of the Delaware County Court.

I would appreciate it if you would refer this proposition to those who are interested in the affairs of the library and ascertain their reaction to it. I believe that the building could readily be adapted to your purposes.
Township Commissioner and Treasurer, Mr. Horatio Gates Lloyd, was present at the meeting and personally interested in contributing toward the purchase of the building. He asked that specific information be furnished to him (probable amount for building repairs, amount to be paid to the Banking Department, amount to maintain and operate a library, etc) in order to determine the amount of his contribution toward the purchase of the building.

At the November 6, 1936 Board of Trustees meeting, it was moved that, building inspections and estimates having been made, a Committee enter into negotiation with the Banking Department and offer $10,000 for the site at Darby and Mill Roads, Brookline. Discussion continued at the May 7, 1937 meeting at which time it was decided to offer $12,000 “for the purchase of the Haverford Township Title and Trust Company building and to accompany the offer in writing with a check for the sum of $200.”

A special meeting was called for the sole purpose of discussing the purchase of the Haverford Township Title and Trust Company building. An overview of the library, its growth, and its interest in and investigations into the building were presented.

Mr. Horatio Gates Lloyd died before the Board was able to furnish him with answers to his questions regarding the physical state of the building. However, the Board was in discussion with Mr. Lloyd’s heirs and was able to supply them with the requisite information. Mr. Lloyd’s son, Mr. Richard W. Lloyd, informed the Board that “his father’s estate had met and agreed to pay $12,000 for the purchase of the building.”

Mr. Weidman, temporary Chair, informed the Board that the agreement for sale papers had been received and were ready to be filled in. It was anticipated that after all the proper payments, signatures, closings, etc., the library would be able to take possession of the building sometime before June 1938. Settlement was made on September 30, 1937. The library had a dedication and grand opening on May 27, 1938. The building remained virtually the same until the 1970’s when an addition was built. Details of the upstairs portion were completed in the early 1990’s. The library continues to serve the Haverford Township community from the Mill and Darby Roads location.