J. Lewis Crozer Library

620 Engle Street
Chester, PA 19013


The J. Lewis Crozer Library has the distinction of being the third library founded in the state of Pennsylvania. In 1769, a group of citizens felt the need for a library and set up a book collection on the second floor of a market in what was then the center of commerce in the small borough of Chester. They named it the Lyceum. From that point on interest peaked and waned until, in 1871, the collection was "laid away" in a building on 4th Street in Chester. In 1830 an act of the Legislature formed a charter changing the name to the Chester Library Company. The library languished for about 40 years while it was situated first in the offices of a local business then in a building also used by the community and a local church. In 1873, Laura Hand, the daughter of the pastor of the church conceived of the idea for using the collection of books in a place where "...working men and females might assemble in evenings for conversations and reading." She named it the "Mechanic Reading Room" and in 1876 the library was incorporated as the Chester Free Library.

In 1976, a new building was constructed at 620 Engle Street to serve as a branch for the Southern and Western sections of the city. In 1978, a board decision was made to vacate the rented quarters in the center of the city and merge the collection into the branch building, now the main library in the city. The board purchased the new building outright in 1984: the West End Branch became the main library facility in Chester.Today the library continues its work to provide Chester citizens with the access to the information they need. A quality collection greets the patrons, with the ability for them to request items that their library does not currently have on the shelf. Internet access and word processing software, and classes in their use, are provided for all patrons. Children can use a friendly computer with games promoting early literacy and scholastic success. The Crozer Library continues to serve its population as the very nature of information expands and evolves in the twenty-first century.


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