Ephrata Public Library
The Ephrata Cloister, located along Cocalico Creek, was an early center for papermaking, printing, and publishing. Early collections of books, music, and “Fraktur” gave expression to the ideas and thoughts of the early settlers of this area. Their early library was a forerunner of other libraries, including the Ephrata Public Library.
The Ephrata Public Library actually began in 1917, when a shelf of 35 books was placed in the Washington Avenue High School. Ten years later, a special call for books netted a collection, which was placed on several more shelves that were located in a closet of the high school. In 1937, at the urging of the Alumni Association, the high school’s library was opened to the general public. However, a combination of events transpired that cut the usage of the library, and it eventually closed in 1947.
The idea of a public library in Ephrata did not die. A bequest in 1949, from Miss Lizzie Widder gave her home and storeroom to be used as a library. Some initial serious problems arose since the property was outside the Borough of Ephrata. Then in 1961, the Historical Society of Cocalico Valley secured the historic Connell Mansion for the purpose of a library and a museum. This became the home for the first full-scale Ephrata Public library.
In 1963, the Ephrata Public Library was designated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a service location in the countywide library system. This designation increased the attention and usage of the small facility and it soon became obvious that the Connell Mansion could not be a long-term home for the Ephrata Public Library.
With the help of Ephrata Borough Council, the earmarked funds from the Widder Estate, additional government funds and a local fund drive, a new library was dedicated in September 1967, at 207 West Fulton Street. This dedication occurred 50 years after the original idea of a library was implemented in 1917.
The facility served the community well for the next 25 years but the space became inadequate due to the population growth of the area and the ever-growing collection, programs, and technology.
Then in January 1995, after another successful fund drive the library moved to its present location at 550 South Reading Road.
The Ephrata Public Library is part of the Library System of Lancaster County.