The Altoona Area Public Library celebrated its history from its humble beginnings of a room atop a ticket office to the three-story, fully-equipped structure that stands today.

On Thursday, November 9, 2017, the Altoona Area Public Library started off the presentation with the sealing of a time capsule at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, 1210 11th Ave, Altoona. The time capsule will not be opened for another decade, to be opened at the 100th Birthday Celebration. Contained in the capsule were polaroid photos of the current library staff, library flyers and program calendars, 3D printed lego and other trinkets made by a 3D printer, Solar eclipse glasses, a fidget spinner, library employee profile forms,  Children’s drawings of their visions for the future, an Altoona Mirror, a Guestbook from those who attended the 90th Birthday and an oral history interview transcript of Debra Appleby who was involved in the book walk that moved the library collection from the Roosevelt building to the “new” library building in 1969.

You can read a copy of the Altoona Area Public Library 90th Anniversary Oral History Project online at

The library also honored its first Novel Service Award Winner, Dick Hall, in appreciation of his advocacy and service to the Altoona Area Public Library. Dick has been invaluable as a board member, influential leader and a treasured patron.

Dick Hall retired after 32 years with the Barash Group. Dick was active in the Altoona Chamber of Commerce and the State College equivalent, and served many years on the Altoona Area Public Library Board of Directors.  He is also currently serving on the Blair County Library System Board of Directors.

Senator John Eichelberger was unable to attend the event, but sent a citation for Dick Hall from the PA State Senate, recognizing him for all of his work for the library and the community.

State Reps. Judy Ward and John McGinnis were in attendance and presented Library Director Jennifer Knisely with a citation from the Pennsylvania House for the 90th Birthday.

The history of the library: Remember the Past. Look to the Future.

The first library to be established in Altoona was the Mechanics’ Library and Reading Room Association under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). Ninety years ago, the PRR started to look for an organization to house and maintain the collection of books and to oversee the conversion of the Mechanics’ Library into a free public library. They found that organization in the Altoona Area School District.

The collection of the Mechanics’ Library was moved into the Roosevelt Junior High School building in the late 1920’s. The solution was expected to be temporary, but after 40 years the move appeared to be permanent. The Mechanics’ Library had been converted to a free public library and disassociated from the PRR.

In the 1960’s, several community groups with support from the school board began the first successful movement to obtain an independent structure for the Altoona Area Public Library. In 1968, the building at 1600 Fifth Avenue was erected. The first building for the sole purpose of housing a public library collection was thus created for the people of Altoona.

For over 90 years, the Altoona Area Public Library has been serving our community, offering
free informational, educational, and entertaining resources and programs.