250+ Years of History

The Newtown Library Company has a rich history that dates back to its founding on August 9, 1760.

The Newtown Library Company was founded with 21 original members. Joseph Thornton was chosen librarian, and the library’s books and effects were kept at his home.
David Twining served as librarian until 1789. Library books were moved to Twining’s home.
Incorporation was granted by a Special Act of the Pennsylvania Legislature.
The library had 50 members and a collection of 456 books.
The library’s collection of books was kept at the homes of various librarians from 1760 to 1813, when the County seat was moved to Doylestown. At that point, the books became housed in the old Court House building. Also in 1813, the William Penn Chairs became property of the Newtown Library Company.
The Newtown Library Company was founded with 21 original members. Joseph Thornton was chosen librarian, and the library’s books and effects were kept at his home.
Sallie E. Bunting and Mary Eyre became the first women elected to the Board of Directors.
A new building was constructed at Court Street and Centre Avenue on land donated by Jesse Leedom. The library was built and furnished for $1,643. Also this year, Wilhelmina Hough Barnsley began her 40-year service as Board Secretary.
Anna Mary Williamson of Langhorne left $4,000 to the library for the “purchase of books of a standard and useful character and to the exclusion of the light sensational useless and pernicious publications of the day.”
Joseph Barnsley of Hartsville bequeathed $15,000 to the library for the purpose of establishing a free reading room.
George Antes Jenks served as President of the Library Board for nearly 40 years until his death on April 2, 1909. By this point, the library had 4,000 – 5,000 books in its collection.
The library took ownership of its present building at the corner of Centre and Congress. The building was erected through funds bequeathed by Joseph Barnsley.
Dorothy Fitzgerald, a Newtown High School English teacher, began her association with the library as a part-time volunteer. In 1994, she became the main librarian.
Edward R. Barnsley was elected president of Board of Directors. He served 35 years as Board Member and President.
Frances Cronin began her 42 years of service to the Newtown Library Company.
An expansion provided additional stack rooms, a children’s area, librarian work space, and accessible ramps.
Luise Cornell endowed the library with a major contribution.
The addition of a children’s room was completed. Also this year, Dorothy Fitzgerald endowed the library with a major contribution.
The library had 381 members and over 20,000 books. Also this year, a portrait of Anna Mary Williamson was dedicated, and a model of Newtown’s first library was dedicated.
The Newtown Library Company celebrated its 250th anniversary with a special recognition of benefactors.

Join Us Today

Over 20,000 books including bestsellers, mysteries, cookbooks, magazines, children’s books, and eBooks
Community events like our annual Book Lover’s Party, Scavenger Hunt, and 5K Run
Poetry readings, lectures, book signings, children’s storytime, and historic building tours
Free WIFI and public reading rooms
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Short Film: Preserving the Newtown Borough Library

In the late 1990s, the library produced a film that ran on local networks for several months. The film was a fundraiser that highlighted its history, book collection, and previous financial struggles.