The first social library in the United States was formed by Benjamin Franklin. Commonly, social libraries were formed as book clubs. To become a member, you had to pay dues and a tax was charged annually. Books were shared amongst members. Many of the social libraries were funded by contributions from the wealthy. If times were prosperous, libraries could expand their collections. In harder economic times, the libraries often were dissolved.
Abington’s Social Library was formed by Reverend Walter Lyon in 1793 with 100 volumes of books. A portrait of Rev. Lyon hangs in the library today as a remembrance. In 1804 it became a Junior Library of which John Holbrook became the librarian of about 90 books of lighter literature. In 1813, a Ladies’ Library was formed of which Alathea Lord was librarian. In 1815 the two libraries joined to form the United Library of Abington, which later changed its name to the Abington Social Library. In 1886 a building was erected to house all the books in a permanent home. Today, the Abington Social Library is still going strong, with over 20,000 books in our collection. We are no longer a “members only” club and we are open to the community for book lending at no charge.