Oil City Library

2 Central Avenue
Oil City, PA 16301

The Library is certainly one of our area's assets and it is definitely one of the most beautiful buildings in our city. Each corner of the building has a lion's head which symbolizes that knowledge is power.

Oil City has a long history of library support. The concept of a library in our community began in 1864 when a group of citizens formed an organization called the Petroleum Institute. Aside from buying books for the public's use, the group met weekly to listen to essays, music, readings and to debate.

The Institute reorganized in 1871 to form the Oil City Library Association. Many of the ideas were not widely supported by the general public and library service suffered due to serious economic problems.

The picture brightened however in 1890 when the Belles Lettres Club was formed for the purpose of studying literature and maintaining a library. An active member of Belles Lettres, Cora Hull Ramage, began corresponding with Andrew Carnegie of Pittsburgh. She requested that Mr. Carnegie donate money for a library. He did agree to donate $44,000 to build the library provided that the citizens provide a site and guarantee $3,000 annually to maintain it.

Andrew Carnegie once said, "A library outranks any other thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never sailing spring in the desert." Mr. Carnegie contributed an estimated 150 million dollars to about 2,800 libraries in the United States and Great Britain. Oil City was fortunate to be one of the recipients but the library has never received any other Carnegie monies.
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