The concept of a public library for Towanda sprang full blown from the mind of Frank R. Welles, who, although he spent only six of his boyhood years here, conceived an unfailing regard for his hometown. During those six years, from 1865-1871, he attended Susquehanna Collegiate Institute in town, where among his classmates he found his future wife, Anna Thomas of Wyalusing. He attended Rochester University and, upon graduation, went to work for Western Electric in Chicago.

Frank’s grandfather was Charles F. Welles who was Bradford County’s first prothonotary. He built the house still standing across Maple Street from the library in 1814. Frank’s father was R. M. Welles, a merchant of Towanda who dealt in farm machinery. Frank’s daughter recalls the story: On a visit to his parents, Frank left the train station early and walking through town was struck by the thought that Towanda must have a public library.

olduilding2In 1894, he offered the lot he owned at Maple and Main. Later when he had satisfied himself that the Towanda Musical Society’s subscription library could become the nucleus for a book collection, and that the citizens of Towanda were interested enough to raise an endowment that could support a library, he not only gave the lot, but planned and built the present building, which was completed in 1897. Frank had a very successful career with Western Electric. As vice-president he built many factories in Europe and established telephone systems in major cities there. He lived in Antwerp, Belgium and Paris, which may explain his choice of Flemish Renaissance architecture for the library, unusual but enthusiastically accepted by the trustees.

Frank was a modest man who felt his fortune should be used intelligently. He refused to have the library named after him, feeling it would get better support as the Towanda Public Library.

Early History

A tiny musical library created for the benefit of the members of the Towanda Musical Society, began by enthusiastic young ladies in 1879, grew within the year into a general subscription library, reflecting the appetite of Towandians for books for borrowing. After starting in the parlor of Miss Helen Carter, it had moved to quarters in the third floor of 419 Main Street.

A subscription cost $2.00 per year, for non-subscribers it was ten cents a book. An autonomous Library Committee was in charge, but the Musical Society continued to support it through dues and fundraisers. Its book collection grew continually, and when in 1897, the society agreed to put their collection in the new library building under construction, a gift to the town from Frank R. Welles, their books numbered 2,143. When the new library opened in 1898, it was placed under the direction of a Board of Trustees.[/one_half]

At their first meeting they appointed Miss Helen Carter as librarian at the salary of $27 per month, from which she had to pay the janitor. Betty Wetzer from Philadelphia was hired to catalog the books and instruct Miss Carter. In the first 15 days after opening, 415 borrowers took out over 1,033 books. Miss Helen Rockwell became librarian in 1899, staying until 1910 when the Trustees refused to pay her $40 per month. Funding remained a problem. Since Pennsylvania law, until 1917, forbid any tax money to be used to support public libraries, all maintenance money had to come from contributions, benefits, and fundraising schemes.

By 1920, the library had a deficit despite a $300 contribution from the public schools. Inflation had made their original maintenance fund inadequate. After considerable public pressure, the borough council put to referendum the proposal of a 1.5 mill tax levy for library support, and the voters of Towanda approved.



The Library Building

Architectural style:Flemish Renaissance chosen by Frank Welles, the donor of the building. Of red pressed brick with terra cotta decorations including the name plaque, made in Corning, New York. High pitched roof of slate with copper cresting and finials; fanciful dormer windows; high-stepped gables in Flemish style. Architect: Henry Chapman of New York City Contractor: F. H. Johnson of Montrose Built between May and October, 1897 at a cost of $5,350 In 1951, through the generosity of Carl V. S. Patterson, an addition was given in memory of their son, which so matched the original design that it is hard to detect. It made possible the present children’s room. At that time floors throughout were tiled over the earlier pine flooring.


Carriage House

At the turn of the century, a carriage house was built for a home adjacent to the library. Over the years this property changed hands several times and it took on different forms. A second floor was added to the building in the early part of the twentieth century and was used as a kindergarten into the 1960’s. The intervening years saw little to no maintenance of the building until the library purchased it in 2000.

Once it was decided to purchase the building, the library board was uncertain just what to do with it. It was cleaned and patched and became a space for Friends of the Library book sales. Several ideas were bantered about. Should the carriage house become an extension of the library; a senior space, a children’s library, a community room? Should it remain a space for book sales? The parking situation is less than adequate in Towanda. Should we tear it down and put up a parking lot? We all had differing opinions. While the debate continued, the building needed maintenance; a new roof, HVAC system, better floor support, and drainage.

The Plan:

It became generally accepted that although the building wasn’t as historically significant as the main library building, it nevertheless was a part of our town and we should keep it if possible. We had no other option for expansion. The contours of the property coupled with its small size meant that any expansion to the main building would be difficult, if not impossible. We became convinced that the best way to utilize this space for library service to the community was to create a children’s library on the first floor and a community room on the second floor.

While plans were drawn up for individual projects that could be funded over a period of years, we still didn’t have an overall architectural plan. A chance encounter with a contractor put us in touch with Larson Design who just happened to have an architect based in our area. It was through Andy Harding that we met Joyce Seno, the firm’s “library person”. Joyce immediately saw the potential of the building and after several meetings with the Carriage House committee, drew up excellent plans.

The Renovation:

carriage-house1The project went out to bid in December of 2010. By late winter we were suffering from sticker shock. The total price for insulating, replacing windows, putting in the structure for the elevator, finishing the first floor, and furnishings came to just over $160,000, about $10,000 over budget. After construction began one could see changes almost daily. The old drab building began to stand taller and the changes on the inside were phenomenal. When the contractor was close to finishing, we set the opening date. Monday, June 13th coincided with registration for Summer Reading Club.

Budget overruns left little money to freshen up the children’s collection, for computers, bookends, and a hundred small things that you don’t know you need until you need them. Luckily, an LSTA grant a couple of years ago replaced much of the juvenile non fiction and during that time we weeded the collection heavily. Local money that would have been spent on all areas of the children’s collection could now be concentrated in easy and fiction. We purchased computers and equipment which included a bridge kit to boost the Internet signal from the main library to the Carriage House. We purchased only one complete desktop and 4 monitors, mice, keyboards and miscellaneous equipment. This equipment effectively turns one complete desktop into 5 functioning computers.

The Move:

The space left after moving the children’s section to the Carriage House became what we call the community reading room. It houses the local history collection and newspapers and doubles as a meeting space for small groups. The pocket doors make it easy to turn the room into an enclosed semi-private space. The area vacated by local history became the young adult room. Young adults have their own space in the library for the very first time.

The Carriage House renovation has given the main library some much needed breathing room. The atmosphere is nicer, not so crammed with books, computers and bodies. And the children’s library has improved drastically. There is now room for children’s programs, double the amount of computers, and room to grow.

The Carriage House is not yet finished. The second floor will eventually become a meeting room for library programs and area organizations. The library has embarked on a capital campaign to finish the building. Community response to the new children’s library has been great. The Carriage House is a great community asset now and will be even more so in the future.
(Before and after photos of the Carriage House entrance)


Services and Programs

Services & Programs

Children’s Programs
The Towanda Public Library provides a variety of programs and services for children. These include Summer Reading, Baby and Me, Toddler Time, Preschool Story Hours, Fun Stuff, and Tumblebooks Library. See our Children’s Programs page.

Interlibrary Loan
mail-bookIf we don’t have what you need, we may be able to get it for you from another library. Send us an email with your name, address, telephone, and email, and any information you know about the book (author, title, ISBN, special edition if any). We’ll request the item for you.

smartphone-android-iconHave your own personal laptop, iPad or mobile device? You can use the library’s WiFi connection. Stop at the circulation desk and pick up your password to access that connection. The library’s WiFi is encrypted for your safety.

Basic Computer Classes
Computer-iconComputer and E-book Classes
The Towanda Public Library provides basic computer and e-book classes for individuals. The computer instruction answers very basic questions such as “How do I turn it on” and “Where is the Internet” and are scheduled by appointment. The e-book lessons, also on appointment, are instructional lessons on how to download e-books to your device free of charge from our online library. Appointments can be made by contacting the Director.

The library has 3 desktops and 6 laptops for use in the main library and 4 desktops in the Carriage House Children’s Library. All computers have word processing and Internet access. See our Internet Use Policy .

Item Policies

Loan Periods: Books – 2 weeks, Magazines – 1 week, DVDs – 1 week, Audiobooks – 2 weeks.

Checkout limits:

a. A total of 100 books may be checked out on a library card at any one time. A total of 10 DVDs may be checked out at any one time.
b. Non-fiction is limited to six books per subject.
c. No more than six magazines and six pamphlets may be borrowed at one time.
d. DVDs and older magazines may be borrowed for seven days with 2 renewals.
e. Reference materials, local history items, and current issues of magazines and newspapers do not circulate.
f. Books for common class assignments and research projects may be placed on a reserve shelf after coordination with an instructor. Borrowing may be limited.

All items available for check out may be renewed twice with the exception of books on hold or reserve.

Holds or reserves may be placed in a variety of ways:
By logging into your library account and placing the reserve.
By Phone: call (570) 265-2470 with the author and title of the book to be placed on hold or reserve. Or come in person. You’ll also need your library card number.

Email: Email your request to towandapublib@gmail.com. Please be sure to include the author and title of the book, your name, library card number, and telephone number.

Online from your account: Sign in to your account. To place a hold, search for the item you want – either by using the “Advanced Search” at the bottom of the page, or by “Browse Alphabetically” or “Browse the Catalog.” Once you have the record up, scroll to the bottom, and in the “Status” column, you will click on “Place a Hold.” Make sure your phone number or e-mail is correct, and click on “Submit Request.” You will then see the item
in your holds screen.

• Books – 25 cents per day per book.
• DVDs — $1.00 per day per DVD
• There is no charge for days the library is closed.
• Lost books will be charged at replacement cost plus a processing fee and postage.
• The maximum fine per item is the cost of the item.
• If books are overdue or fines owed, borrowing and computer privileges are revoked until the fine or fee is less than $10.00.

• Photocopies: black and white, 25 cents, color, 50 cents
• Replacement library cards — $1.00
• Faxes — $3.00 for first page, $1.00 for each additional page.

Lost and damaged

Accidents happen. If you lose or damage a library book, you will be charged a replacement cost for the book plus a $12.50 processing fee. It’s best to notify the library as soon as possible to avoid the accrual of fines.

Interlibrary Loan:
• InterLibrary Loan (ILL) is a special privilege permitting one library to borrow from another library in order to provide a patron with material requested.
• Materials that can be borrowed include books, photocopied articles, some microforms, some government publications, films, and some recordings.
• Materials that cannot be borrowed include current or rare issues of periodicals, non-circulating or rare books, current reference books, genealogical materials, videos, DVDs, recently published fiction and non-fiction in high demand, and material available in Towanda Public Library.
• Loan periods and restrictions are set by the lending library. There are no renewals. Failure to comply is cause for discontinuance of services on ILL.
• ILL takes a minimum of 1 week to process. If the necessary material is found elsewhere, patrons must notify the Towanda Public Library so that the ILL search can be discontinued. Requests that have not been filled at the end of 3 months will be cancelled.
• Payment for damaged or lost books and fines on late books set by the lending library will be the responsibility of the patron.
• Photocopies and book loans are generally free of charge. Should there be charges, the fees become the responsibility of the patron. The Library does ask for a donation to offset the cost of postage.

General Policies

Safe Child Policy

We are glad children are here. We want the Towanda Public Library to be a welcoming, educational and safe place for every child.

Our library staff is here to serve. They perform many duties in order to help all of our patrons. As a result they can not monitor the whereabouts or behavior of our smallest patrons—children.  Staff will not and can not assume the responsibility for individual care of a child when that child is in the library

Therefore, the parent/guardian/adult caregiver accompanying a child to the library and its premises is responsible for his/her child during the entire visit.

No public place, including the Towanda Public Library’s Main Library and Carriage House, can guarantee the safety of children. A child could be lured away by a stranger or become ill. A child could wander outside and become lost or injured. An emergency could result in the evacuation of the building. We are concerned with safety, and we feel this policy better assures the well being of everyone.

The Towanda Public Library emphasizes that for a child age 10 and under:

Parent/guardian/adult caregiver

• May not leave a child (10 or under) unattended at any time.
• Is responsible for the child’s behavior and ensuring the child obey library rules and regulations.
• Must remain in the library during library-sponsored programs.

Still, the problem of an unattended child has occurred. Thus, the following actions will be taken in future.

To assist the unattended child who is 10 years old or younger: Towanda Public Library Staff

• Will attempt to locate the parent/guardian/adult caregiver in the library and on the premises.
• Will contact law enforcement officials for the child to be taken under their care regardless of time of day and will post notes to that effect at the circulation desk and on all exit doors if library is closed.
• Will not, under any circumstances, give the child a ride home, take the child outside the building, or offer the child a seat in his/her vehicle.

The Towanda Public Library emphasizes that for a child age 11 and older:

Each young patron
• Will be responsible for obeying library rules and regulations.
• Will have arranged with his/her parent/guardian/adult caregiver a responsible plan for leaving the library and its premises.

Towanda Public Library Staff

Will initiate immediate contact with parent/guardian/adult caregiver or law enforcement officials for assistance in the matter if the child 11 and older is unattended at the time of closing.

Finally, the procedures for dealing with unattended children may also apply to any child who:

• Is not picked up within 15 minutes after closing time.
• Becomes ill or frightened.
• Is vulnerable because of circumstance such as weather conditions, inadequate meal arrangements or long hours out of contact with the parent/guardian/adult caregiver.
• Becomes disruptive and does not respond to verbal warnings given by the library staff.

The procedures listed also apply to an instance where more than one child is involved in the situation. Actions by the Towanda Public Library Staff apply to children in both identified age groups should they be necessary.

A parent/guardian/adult caregiver who disregards Towanda Public Library’s Safe Child Policy will be reported to the appropriate social services agency and/or will lose all library privileges.

Freedom to Read
The Freedom to Read Statement

female-readingThe freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:
1) It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

2) Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

3) It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

4) There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

5) It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

6) It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

7) It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.

Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

A Joint Statement by:

American Library Association
Association of American Publishers

Subsequently endorsed by:

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
The Association of American University Presses, Inc.
The Children’s Book Council
Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

Collection Development Policy

booksTowanda Public Library is fully aware of the pluralistic nature of its communities and endeavors to make available materials and services for all of its citizens. The Library has not only an obligation to provide the best materials and services for library users, but to search for materials and services that will assist those in the community who typically do not use the library.

General Principles and Selection Policy

Towanda Public Library recognizes that the population served has diverse needs and interests. It is in recognition of these factors that the library adopts the following principles to assure that the library serves all of its customers well.
• The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the freedom to read. It is essential to our democracy and will be upheld by all library staff in the selection of and access to library materials.
• The Library will uphold the freedom to read principles contained in the statements of the American Library Association; refer to the Library Bill of Rights and The Freedom to Read Statement.
• While it is this policy’s intent to encourage free access to materials, the library reserves the right to restrict the library user’s opportunity to remove select material from the library. These materials will be available only on site. Examples include, but are not limited to, reference, local history, and periodicals.
• Parents and legal guardians have sole responsibility for what children read, view or hear. The Library and its staff do not serve in loco parentis (in place of the parents). Only parents and guardians may restrict their own, and only their own, children’s access to library materials. Selection of library materials will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into a child’s possession.
• The Library will provide materials for use by all members of the community. Access to and use of material will not be denied or abridged because of origin, race, age, background, sex, or views. Likewise, none of these factors shall be cause to exclude from selection any material of authors, artists, publishers, or producers. However, library staff may consider other resources available to customer groups through other local sources and interlibrary loan when selecting materials.

• Selection of the material by the librarian does not imply agreement with or approval of the content, viewpoint, implication, or expression of the material.
• Librarians will judge materials on the basis of the content and style of the work as a whole, not by selected random passages or scenes.
• The public library is not a curriculum center and does not provide basic texts, curriculum resources, or materials in quantity for school work. However, the individual student or teacher will often find the supplementary resources of the library to be enriching and useful. The staff will take into consideration but will not develop the collection by the needs of the local school districts or colleges.

These principles form the basis of the library’s collection policy. Limiting factors include the large number of print and non print materials available, the large number of interests and topics possible, the reality of budget constraints, and shelving limitations. While recognizing these practical limitations, and remembering the basic precepts above, Library selection staff will strive to maintain diversity, quality and responsiveness to community interests.


• Quality of materials will be maintained by the application of professional discretion and standards established by the library profession and through the use of appropriate selection tools.
• Responsiveness to interest patterns will be maintained by careful consideration of user requests for purchase, patterns of use of existing materials, patterns of purchase of similar materials from retailers such as “best seller lists”, and any other source of information that can help librarians know of community interest patterns.

Computer and Internet Policies

1) Persons using public access computers must be a registered borrower in good standing and present a valid library card (non-library patrons must show their driver’s license) to the desk staff.

2) To use the Internet, persons under the age of 18 must have permission granted in person by a parent or legal guardian. Patrons must be at least 10 years old or accompanied by a parent, grandparent or guardian.

3) The Internet is available during normal library hours as computers are available. There is a time limit of 30 minutes if others are waiting and no more than 2 hours per day. Laptops are available only in the main room library and may be used by children age 14 and older.

4) Disabling filters: In accordance with CIPA, persons aged 17 or older may request to have Internet filters disabled. Patrons requesting to have Internet filters disabled may be asked to present proper ID in order to comply with this federal requirement.

5) Shared use of workstations: Only one person may use a public access computer at any one time unless permission has been granted and accommodated by staff.

6) Computers may be reserved. Reservations will be held for 10 minutes before releasing the computer to a waiting patron.

7) Patrons may use their own materials on the computers provided these materials have been approved by the staff and scanned for viruses. CD’s may be purchased at the desk. No work is to be permanently saved to the hard drive.

8) Users agree to be responsible for computer software and equipment. Problems must be reported immediately to prevent costly damage.

9) There is a charge for printing.

Responsibility of Users:

All library users must observe the policies, rules and procedures established by the library. Users at TPL should bear in mind that workstations are located in public areas shared by people of all ages and backgrounds and are expected to show consideration of others when viewing web pages. Use of workstations are for legal purposes only. No person shall use a library workstation in a way that disturbs or interferes with users, employees or operations of the library. Patrons may not:

1) View, print, distribute, display, send or receive images, text or graphics of obscene materials that violate laws relating to child pornography.
2) Disseminate, exhibit, or display to minors materials that are harmful to minors.
3) Use the Internet workstations to transmit threatening or harassing material.
4) Engage in an activity that is deliberately offensive or creates an intimidating or hostile environment.
5) Violate copyright or software licensing agreements.
6) Install software applications or download / upload files without prior approval.
7) Damage, alter or degrade computer equipment, peripherals, software or configurations.

Failure to comply:

Failure to comply with Internet Use Policy will result in a request from staff to discontinue the activity. Continued violations will result in a request to leave the library and may lead to revocation of library privileges, including the right to enter the library or its grounds. Repeat offenders or persons ordered from the premises may be subject to arrest.


TPL assumes no responsibility for any damage, direct or indirect, that users or anyone else may suffer through TPL’s access to the Internet. All public internet users at TPL agree to hold the library harmless from any claims losses or damages. The Internet user is responsible for “logging off” or “signing out” when using the Internet for personal business.

The Towanda Public Library upholds and affirms the right of every individual to have access to constitutionally protected material on the Internet. The content of the Internet is not managed or governed by any entity. Users may encounter material they consider offensive. Parents and guardians are responsible for monitoring Internet access by children.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) passed Congress in 2000 and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2003. CIPA requires libraries receiving certain types of federal funding to equip Internet access computers with a “technology protection measure” that blocks or filters visual depictions that are obscene, contain child pornography and are harmful to minors. In accordance with this law, persons aged 17 years or older may request to have the filters disabled.

Users should be aware that Internet filtering software installed for CIPA compliance should not substitute for individual judgment and / or parental involvement and oversight. The software may unintentionally block legitimate research sites and/or fail to block objectionable content. Filters are not guaranteed.

Mission and Vision

missionMission statement: The mission of the Towanda Public Library is to maintain a free, public, non sectarian library which serves community members equally according to need regardless of age, sex, race, educational background or intellectual capability, economic or educational status.

The Library will provide informational, educational and recreational materials to meet the needs of the community.

The Towanda Public Library shall provide enrichment and promote an appreciation of reading, thereby being an invaluable source for the community.

Vision Statement: Towanda Public Library embraces the rich heritage and vibrant future of our community. We aspire to be the best possible library for Towanda and surrounding communities. We create opportunities to participate, connect and discover by:

  • Encouraging lifelong learning.
  • Responding to community needs
  • Ensuring Freedom of access to information.
  • Offering space for people and ideas to come together.
  • Providing materials and programs that entertain and inspire.

Organization Description: Towanda Public Library, founded in 1897, was created by the community for the community and continues to fulfill the intellectual, social, and entertainment needs of its community by encouraging lifelong learning, responding to community needs, ensuring freedom of access to information, offering space for people and ideas to come together, and providing materials and programs that entertain and inspire. Towanda Public Library is a 501(c)3 non profit organization.

Strategic Plan

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Towanda Public Library is to maintain a free, public, non sectarian library which serves community members equally according to need regardless of age, sex, race, educational background or intellectual capability, economic or educational status.

The Library will provide informational, educational and recreational materials to meet the needs of the community.

The Towanda Public Library shall provide enrichment and promote an appreciation of reading, thereby being an invaluable source for the community.


A tiny musical library created for the benefit of the Towanda Musical Society began in 1879 in Miss Helen Carter’s parlor. It soon became a subscription library. An autonomous library committee was in charge but the Musical Society continued to support it through dues and fundraisers. In 1897, the Musical Society agreed to put their collection in a new library building, a gift to the town from Frank R. Welles. At that time their books numbered 2,143. Miss Helen Carter was the first librarian. In the first 15 days after opening, 455 borrowers took out 1,033 books.

Funding was a problem. In 1920, public pressure forced the borough council to put to referendum the proposal of a 1.5 mill tax levy for library support and the voters of Towanda approved.

The library building is quite unusual. Architect Henry Chapman of New York City designed the Flemish Renaissance building made from red pressed brick with terra cotta decorations. The library’s high pitched roof is made from slate with copper cresting and finials. The building remains much the same except that a room was added to house a children’s collection in the 1950’s.

Today the library has over 30,000 items, and over 6,000 borrowers. The library is open 54 hours in a typical week and the average circulation is nearly 4,000 per month. Computers are used at least 600 times per month.

Library Use:

project-planUse of the Towanda Public Library continues to grow despite the fear that the Internet would make libraries obsolete. It has, in fact, done quite the opposite. Users come to the library to use high speed Internet connections; for some the library is their only source of Internet access. Travelers use the library’s computers to check email etc.

Although the proliferation of technology has changed the way some use the library, others continue to use the library in more traditional ways. A five year usage study confirmed that the circulation of fiction is up 43%. Books on tape and CD have seen an increase of 29%. The circulation of videos and DVDs has risen 315%. Children’s fiction has increased by 88%.

As stated earlier perhaps the biggest change in library use is caused by the prevalence of the Internet. Both adult and juvenile non fiction circulation has declined by 20% since 2000, probably due to increased use of electronic databases and resources. Computer use has increased by 35%.

To sum it up, the use of non fiction materials has declined but we have seen a sharp increase in recreational reading and the demand for audio visual materials.

Creating the Plan:

A number of factors have been considered in developing a plan for the Towanda Public Library. Demographic trends and projections, outcomes from community focus groups, and input from staff all helped to make informed decisions about the library’s future.


  • pie_chartThe library’s service population is 10,839 which include 9 townships and boroughs in Bradford County.
  • 28% of the population is under the age of 19.
  • 52% between the ages of 25 and 65.
  • 15% is 66 or older.

The percentages above reflect statewide averages.

  • Median family income: $40,664, slightly less than the statewide average of $42,952.
  • 81.7% of the population 25 and older have at least a high school diploma / GED.

Emerging Trends:

With the proliferation of portable computing devices and a generation of new library users who have never known a world without computers, libraries are offering more remote services. Electronic databases have become commonplace but more and more libraries are offering subscriptions to music and audio books.


Libraries have offered story hours and programs for children for many years but recent trends indicate that parents are looking to libraries to help them teach emergent literacy skills to their children. Emergent literacy is defined as what a child knows about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. These skills are the building blocks for later literacy.

Libraries are learning an important lesson from businesses such as Barnes and Noble and Borders Books, which have successfully employed attractive store displays, programs, cafes and other features that are appealing to the public. This is an idea that has been implemented in many libraries nationally. Adding Internet PC’s and wireless access to the mix makes a true Internet Café concept.

RFID is shorthand for Radio Frequency Identification. Libraries are using this technology to increase efficiency. RFID involves the implanting of a radio frequency chip in library materials, which allows check in and check out of library materials without the need for staff interaction, commonly called “self checkout”.

Community Comments:

commentTricia Ulmer, North Central Library District Consultant, conducted three focus group discussions. The SWOT method was employed. Community strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats were discussed. Library planners were given some valuable insights into the community and the role of the library. Some of the comments are listed here:

  • The library is not competitive / many don’t know all that the library has to offer.
  • The Library is centrally located within walking distance for many borough residents but the library lacks adequate parking for its service area.
  • The community expects adequate number of up to date computers for children and adults.
  • Our educators would like to see an increase in homework help and family centered assistance in how to use the library.
  • Library programs to address emergent literacy / school readiness.
  • Increase community partnerships for sharing skills and funding.
  • Nowhere for teens to socialize in community.
  • State mandates are not backed with money.

Long Range Plan for Towanda Public Library:
The Library hopes to achieve the following during this five year planning cycle:


  • Attract a diverse group of people of all ages.
  • Be an invaluable resource to families.
  • Offer a comfortable, easy to use facility that provides flexibility for the community’s changing needs.
  • Work in partnership with other area agencies.

Goals and objectives to help achieve the vision:

1. Create a positive library experience.
2. Expand customer base.
3. Support lifelong learning.
4. Provide flexible space for changing needs.
5. Continue to build library organization.

Goal One: Create a positive library experience.


1.1 Everyone using the library has a positive experience.

  • Provide staff training in customer service.
  • Develop surveys and focus groups to assess customer satisfaction annually.
  • Review patron policies, paying close attention to policies limiting access to materials or technology.

1.2 Provide convenient and easy access to facilities.

  • Explore possibilities for library parking.
  • Provide an outside drop box for audiobooks, VHS tapes and DVDs.

1.3 Provide convenient and easy access to technology for all library customers.

  • Increase the number of public access computers available to children.
  • Add online databases, train staff and customers.
  • Promote existing databases and provide training for customers.
  • Evaluate new technologies and provide access to our customers.

Goal Two: Expand customer base


2.1 Develop marketing strategy – ensuring everyone in service area knows about library services, both in house and electronic.

  • Develop cooperative relationships with schools and area organizations to promote programs and services.
  • Conduct library card sign-ups in elementary and secondary schools.
  • Identify publicity sources. Make sure that the library is mentioned in one of them at least once a week.
  • Merchandise and display library materials more effectively.

2.2 Offer materials on a wide variety of subjects and in different formats.

  • Evaluate collections. Identify weaknesses and allocate funds accordingly.
  • Evaluate web site.

2.3 Create informal gathering space.

  • Area where cell phones, food and drink are permitted.

Goal Three: Support Lifelong learning.


3.1 Provide programming to promote a lifelong love of reading for children.

  • Continue to offer childrens programs both in house and in child care centers. Participate in state and national initiatives to promote emergent literacy.
  • Create a listening center for children with audio kits and equipment.

3.2 Expand programming for teens and adults.

  • Offer a variety of programs including lectures, book discussion groups, and computer instruction.
  • Create a library space specifically for teens.
  • Work with a teen advisory board to develop programs for teens.

Goal Four: Provide flexible space for changing needs.

4.1 Conclude the renovation of the library annex.

  • Develop “master plan”.
  • Work with building professionals to organize renovated space to reflect community needs.
  • Secure necessary funding.

Goal Five: Library Organization and Infrastructure:

5.1 Identify library staff needs.

  • Review job descriptions.
  • If necessary, hire additional staff to meet programming needs.
  • Discuss benefits offered.

5.2 Library Board development.

  • Provide regular orientation sessions for new and prospective trustees with prepared library packets.
  • Review by-laws and policies.
Friends of the Library

friends-logo-smallMission Statement:

It is the mission of the Friends of the Towanda Public Library to provide and sustain the library’s efforts to supply children, young adults and adults with materials and services which enrich the community’s reading enjoyment.



Become a “Friend: of the Towanda Public Library. Funding for the Library is derived from the generosity of our community through donations, fund raising events and Friends annual membership dues.
Become a Friend so that we may continue to achieve our goals to serve all residents of our community and surrounding region. Allow the library to maintain a program of service which locates information, guides reading, organizes and interprets material for people of various backgrounds and stimulates thinking and intellectual development in individuals of any age.

Membership Form: Download, and return


The Friends have a book sale on the second Saturday of the month 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. On the Monday preceding the book sale we have our monthly meeting at 1:30 PM. The book sale is an important part of our fund raising effort thanks to the generous donations of books from the community and the support of visitors who purchase items in the book sale All are welcome.

Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees


Karen Johnson, President
Tomoko Henty, Vice president
Kathy Joyce, Secretary
Thomas C. Thompson III, Treasurer


Christopher Bradley
Linda Chernosky
Theresa Fulda
Margaret C. Gerhart
Joan Hudyncia
Keith Long

Interested in becoming a Trustee at the Towanda Public Library?
Download and complete this form (PDF) and send it to the Nominations Committee via fax, mail, email, or in person at the circulation desk. TPL Board Application