Adams County Library, Bigerville-Style

The Harbaugh-Thomas Library in Biglerville, a branch of the Adams County Library System (ACLS), opened its doors fifteen years ago on August 20, 2007. Today, older community members express their surprise that it has been here that long, and younger people or first-time visitors can’t believe the library hasn’t been here forever.  With architectural features such as the cupola and the Palladian window modeled after Mount Vernon, and the columned entrance with a balcony inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mansion in Hyde Park, New York, the library has the traditional look of a historical building.

The Harbaugh-Thomas Library is a living, breathing partnership between the ACLS and the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation.  The Foundation manages and utilizes funds bequeathed by sisters Marion Thomas Harbaugh and Jean Thomas to maintain the library building and its grounds. In the 1990s, the sisters, owners of the Thomas Bros. Country Store in Biglerville, purchased land from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church with the dream of building a library. Through the combined vision and efforts of the sisters, the members of the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation and the ACLS administrative team, that dream was fulfilled in 2007. While Jean Thomas passed away in 2003 before the blueprints for the building were created, Marion Thomas Harbaugh was able to enjoy the library for years before her death at age 90 in 2015.  

It continues to be a wonderful partnership between the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation and the ACLS. The library staff are ACLS employees, and the materials, including books, audiobooks, DVDs, and magazines, are selected and purchased by the ACLS. The building and grounds, however, are owned and maintained by the Harbaugh-Thomas Foundation. The foundation funded the creation of the building, and now they keep the lights on, the lawn mowed, the heat working and more! The Foundation, with the guidance of current board president Dr. James Spertzel, was a driving force in creating a vibrant library Teen Center in 2019, an afterschool resource for kids in 7th to 12th grade. Anyone who has ever been responsible for the upkeep of a building knows the time and funds needed to keep things running smoothly and looking good, and the Foundation’s diligent efforts are greatly appreciated. This partnership has been a huge benefit for the ACLS and ultimately for the community we serve.

To this day, the Harbaugh-Thomas Library has the distinction of being the only branch of the Adams County Library System that was built to be a library, rather than being in a repurposed building! This makes for a library well-suited to house materials in an accessible manner and accommodate the numerous educational and recreational programs that are offered each year, not to mention many lovely areas for leisurely reading. We also offer two meeting rooms that can be reserved by the community–free for not-for-profit groups, and available for a modest fee by for profit businesses and private individuals. The wi-fi is excellent throughout the building and extends to the immediate surrounding grounds. Our staff of 4 strive to be welcoming and helpful to library users of all ages. I see the library as a true community anchor, and I hope you have the chance to stop by soon!

 Adams County Library is participating in this year’s Giving Spree on November 3rd and we are #13. For more information on how to participate, please contact Erica Duffy, ACLS Development Director at ericad@adamslibrary.org.

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