In June 1932, the Lions Club proposed a town library which the club would operate if space were provided in the Municipal Building on Washington Road. The commissioners accepted the proposal and the whole community celebrated the birth of the Mt. Lebanon Public Library. During the summer and fall, volunteers collected books donated by residents. Residents and civic groups supported the project and on Library Day handbills were posted, a sound truck broadcast the news, and Boy Scouts canvassed the community for more than 8,000 books. Fortune magazine was donated that day and became the first periodical in the magazine section; National Geographic was added shortly thereafter. Members of local organizations and clubs, headed by the Lions Club, solicited gifts of money. The library was dedicated on November 15, 1932. The first librarian was Kathryn E. Peoples. The first year's circulation was 30,162 books and the collection grew to 9,000 books.
First Library Board
The first board comprised three citizens at large and representatives of the Woman's Club of Mt. Lebanon, Civic League, Kiwanis Club, Woman's Fortnightly Review of Mt. Lebanon, South Hills College Club, Lions Club, American Legion, School Board and the Parent Teacher Association. The board was later incorporated as the Mt. Lebanon Public Library Association. For the first thirty years of its existence, the library was operated by the Mt. Lebanon Public Library Association comprising representatives of the following organizations:
- American Legion Post 156
- Citizens of Mt. Lebanon
- Civic League
- Community Association
- Kiwanis Club
- Lions Club
- Mt. Lebanon Board of Education
- South Hills College Club
- Township Commissioners
- Woman’s Club of Mt. Lebanon
- Woman’s Fortnightly Review of Mt. Lebanon
Library Funding During the 1930s
The struggle to exist in the face of scant funds was eased in 1933 when the Township Commissioners approved $500 to support the library. The money came from the township’s share of the county beer license fees. The first Story Hour for children was started in 1933. By 1936 appropriations were increased to $2,500 and covered the librarians' salaries. Following Miss Peoples’ resignation that year, Miss Cleone McLaughlin was appointed Librarian. She held the position until 1938, when Ella (Mrs. John) Daub became Librarian.
Early Library Development
Use of the library increased rapidly, and the library outgrew its original space. By 1939, the volunteer firemen had given two large rooms on the second floor in the front of the Municipal Building. Library hours increased to 56 hours a week. During World War II the library collected books for soldiers and by 1943 had forwarded 659 books to soldiers overseas.
In June of 1955 the Mt. Lebanon Public Library Association was incorporated by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in accordance with the state’s Nonprofit Corporation Law of 1933. By 1955, citizens called for a larger library. A special committee headed by John Nash sought a solution to the space problem. The committee issued a report recommending that the township purchase property for a library site, which would then be leased to the library. The township purchased the site of the present building from the Alice B. McEwan estate for $25,000 and noted that it would provide the 16,000 square feet and the parking area suggested by the committee. Local architect Arthur E. Tennyson designed a two-story colonial-style building with an estimated cost of $350,000 for the building and $75,000 for furnishings. The commissioners approved the plan and a $475,000 bond issue was put on the ballot, but voters defeated it in the November 1957 election.