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Chester County Press

Oxford Library an asset for the community

10/15/2014 04:27PM ● By Lev

The Oxford Library got its start on Aug. 3, 1784, when 28 members of the community, with an equal number of books, joined together to “promise knowledge and literature in the Township of Oxford…” The library in Oxford was the first in the county. Today, it is the third-oldest library in the state of Pennsylvania.

How long has the library served the citizens of Oxford? In 1784, there were 13 stars on the American Flag, but that’s not because there were 13 states—not yet. It would be three more years before Delaware and Pennsylvania became the first states to officially join the United States. In 1784, the U.S. Congress was just getting around to ratifying the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the American Revolutionary War with the colonies gaining their independence from Great Britain. So the library has been serving the Oxford community since before George Washington became the first President of the United States.

But the library is much more than an entity with historic importance to the area. Today, libraries are vital community centers. You can still certainly borrow books, but you can also download the latest bestseller on your iPad, use public computers to check email or fill out a job application, or take part in a language program. Each year, at small town libraries like Oxford’s, patrons save hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively because they can rely on the library’s resources instead of buying all the materials themselves. Even in 2014, with all the technological advancements and societal changes, libraries are community assets—and underappreciated ones at that.

The fact that the Oxford Library has been serving the community for 230 years only makes last week’s groundbreaking ceremony that much more special. A project that has been in the planning stages for more than a decade is now underway, and could be completed within a year. The $1.3 million expansion will add 4,000 square feet of much-needed space and bring a host of upgrades and increased services to the library’s users.

Kudos to everyone involved who made the Oct. 10 groundbreaking a possibility. It would have been easy to abandon the project during all the twists and turns of the last decade or so, but a renovated library will make it that much more of an asset to the community.

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