The first library in the village of Bryn Mawr was founded in 1916 as one of the basic activities of the newly formed Bryn Mawr Community Center Association. The stated purpose of the library was "to supply reading for those who could not afford to buy books." Two bare rooms in the old public school, later the Moose building on Lancaster Pike, were set aside by the School Board for the use of the library which began with twenty books and twelve chairs.
Twenty titles could barely fill the page of a blank ledger; nonetheless, Miss Lois A. Reed (Librarian of Bryn Mawr College) supervised the cataloging of the tiny collection. Later, as funds became available, it was Miss Reed who wisely directed a portion to reference books, giving the library a firm and early start in what was to become its hallmark - quality reference service.
By 1918, gifts, purchases, and a merger with the Bryn Mawr Book Club, combined with normal growth, necessitated a move to the "Old Milestone" on Lancaster Pike. It had also become clear that it was not possible to run the library on volunteer help alone, and the first paid librarian, Miss Fannie Arthur, was hired.
In 1926, through the generosity of Charles H. Ludington, Vice-President of Curtis Publishing, a new building was erected. It was a memorial to his deceased wife, Ethel Saltus Ludington, who during her lifetime had been very interested in the free library movement. "Library friends loaned their chauffeurs, who carried the books from the old quarters to the new, where they were put in orderly fashion on the shelves."
Funds for a children's wing and reading room were raised through public subscription in 1954. This was the first of three expansions. The second, more modern addition was built in 1967. This spacious addition nearly encircled the old building, absorbing parts of it, and included a balcony. Finally in 1985, due to the tireless work of the Capital Campaign Committee, the existing 16,000 square foot structure was renovated and an additional 9,000 square foot wing was added.
Ludington Library serves, not only as the community library for Bryn Mawr and its environs, but also as the headquarters library of the Lower Merion Library System. It is dedicated to meeting the needs of all who use it. The library's collection has been built with particular emphasis on reference, children's literature, history, art, architectural history, horticulture, religion, philosophy, cookery and nutrition. Today it also offers large and varied collections of non-book materials: videos, DVDs, books on tape, books on CD, music on CD, CD-ROM educational programs and more.
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