Shippensburg, Pennsylvania began as the
first settlement in the
Cumberland Valley, settled in 1730 by 12 Scots-Irish families.
The land was owned by Edward Shippen (1703 - 1781) of Lancaster,
originally a well-known gentleman of Philadelphia. The land was
given to him by the heirs of William Penn, and the town would
eventually be named in Shippen's honor.
||The town grew along the
old Virginia Indian
Path (now Rt. 11), which would be renamed King Street by Shippen's
son-in-law Col. James Burd, who also directed the construction of the
road to Fort Pitt during the French and Indian War. King Street
has seen many historical events in its 275 year history, including a
march of Confederate soldiers through the town in 1863, which is
reenacted every year. King Street has also been the site of all
the incarnations of the Shippensburg Public Library.
Our library began as the brainchild of Mr. Arthur Burkhart, Sr., who
simply loved books and wished to spread that love to others of the
community. He was soon joined by many others, and the
Shippensburg Public Library was established on Nov. 7, 1933. By
Jan. 15 of the following year, a portion of a storeroom on West King
St. used as a community center by the farm people of the area was
partitioned off to become the first physical manifestation of our
|Unfortunately, by the
summer of that year,
that space was no longer available. After several temporary
locations, the library board asked the president of the Western
Maryland Railroad if they could use their passenger railroad station on
West King Street for the library. Happily, in 1936 the railroad
agreed to lease the station to the library for ten dollars a
year! A library in a railroad station was unusual enough to be
written up in Ripley's "Believe it or Not" newspaper column.
It was in this period that the Children's Story Hour program
began. Every week, Mrs. Van Scyoc - the Story Lady - would read
to the community's children. The tradition of story hour, and
many more children's programs, continues to this day.
Having outgrown the railroad station, plans were made to buy the home
of Dr. George H. Stewart at 73 West King St. from his widow, Mrs.
Dorothy Gray Stewart. This beautiful and historic home was built
by Dr. Stewart's father in 1880 in the Victorian style, on the site of
the Black Horse Tavern, where George Washington rested while quelling
the Whiskey Rebellion. The house was modified by Dr. Stewart in 1936
into its present Georgian Revival form.
The library opened its doors to the community on Dec. 9, 1957.
Since then, there have been many improvements, including a significant
addition in 1968 and the removal of the children's library from the
basement to a freshly renovated second floor. Today, there are
plans to use Dr. Stewart's offices and consider further
additions. As our community continues to grow, so does our
Our library is a wonderful mix of the old and the new. Original
woodwork and fireplaces can be found only feet from the latest computer
stations. Amish patrons in traditional dress can be found
searching the stacks with professors from nearby Shippensburg
University. Elderly patrons and high school teens work side by
side at the computers. Children from hundred-year-old farms
excitedly listen to stories seated next to children from modern
suburban developments. The latest library technology blends
seamlessly with old-fashioned personal service.
||And speaking of service,
we have a wonderful,
dedicated staff, as well as many volunteers, who keep our library
running. We are especially thankful for our director, who joined
the library in June of 2003. Besides continuing to add to our
collection, she has encouraged the development of book groups and
author talks, oversees our building projects, and brings sanity to our
The crown jewel of our library is our children's program. Besides
the traditional Story Time, we also have Toddler Time, the Summer
Reading Program, Super Saturday Family Fun Day, and Family Place.
Family Place is a parenting workshop which brings community parents and
In April of 2004, our children's director accepted the Pennsylvania
Library Association's Best Practices Award in family programming for
her Passport Program. This program introduces children to world
cultures with foods, games, and language lessons, often involving
community members who represent the various ethnicities.
The Friends of the
Library began in April of
2001. They are dedicated to supporting our library with Friday
morning coffee hours, Books for Babies, a library newsletter, used book
sales, and a spring tea. Just this last October, the Board of Trustees
and the Friends held our fourth successful annual Gala
fundraiser. It's title?
Public Library - The Heart of the Community!