The Bosler Memorial Library, chartered in 1900, was Carlisle's first library to have a public focus, and anyone over the age of 12 and "of cleanly habits and good reputation" could get a library card for $1.00 a year.
The Bosler Memorial Library takes its name in memory of John Herman Bosler, a long-time Carlisle resident. By all contemporary accounts, J. Herman Bosler was a civic-minded, well-loved, and respected man who was accomplished in business, and upon his death in 1897, some townsfolk looked to honor his memory in a meaningful way. During his lifetime, Bosler had been involved in improving Carlisle, including helping to found the James Hamilton Library in 1874 that housed a large collection of local history materials that eventually became the Cumberland County Historical Society, the county's main repository of historical and genealogical records.
In the tradition of making books more accessible first started by Benjamin Franklin, Bosler had, in fact, proposed such a pubic library as what the Bosler Library was to become, but other local businessmen were not as quick to buy into the plan. So it seemed only fitting that a public library, foregoing subscriptions but a dollar-a-year fee for a library card, be opened in his name after his death. The Bosler was backed by some of the most notable names in early 20th century Carlisle, the Boslers and Biddles, and was built in neoclassical design of marble and columns near the corner of West High and West Streets.
By 1905, patrons had to be permanent residents of Carlisle or Dickinson College students to check out books, and they could take home two books from the 4400 volume collection for two weeks as long as both books were not from the fiction section. Take a look at the Bosler's 1903 book list here. By the end of the 1940s, the dollar library card fee was done away with, making the library truly free to the public. Subsequently, generations of Carlisle residents have grown up with getting a Bosler Library card as an important rite of passage.
Today, the Bosler Memorial Library is part of the Cumberland County Library System and has grown to twice its original side. Inside, residents can access thousands of books and periodicals, including a large children's department, check out media, use computers and meeting rooms for free, access countless books via interlibrary loan, and enjoy special community programming. The library also has a volunteer-run, used bookstore, called The Bookery, where low-cost books are available for purchase. The Bosler Library continues to serve as a central institution in the greater Carlisle area and remains today as one of the most impressive buildings in downtown.
As a public institution, the Bosler Library has public bathrooms and baby changing stations. Read about the Bosler Library photo opp.
LIBRARY HOURS Due to the pandemic, please see their website or facebook page for the most up-to-date hours.
BOOKERY HOURS Due to the pandemic, please see their website or facebook page for the most up-to-date hours.