Library History – Early Days to Now

The Hershey Public Library was first established in 1913 and has had six previous locations in the area.

Early Days:
In 1912, a permanent public library was housed in the YMCA Building, a part of Cocoa House, a community center that also contained a bank, post office, store, theatre, dormitories, and Hershey Trust Company offices. The library was managed through a joint committee of the YWCA and YMCA, enabling resources to be available to both men and women.

Hershey Public Library proper was founded in 1913. The earlier collection was relocated to the Hershey Department Store.

In 1914, the library moved to the newly renovated and renamed Hershey Central Theater Building (origianlly named McKinley School).

In June 1928, the library moved a third time to the second floor of a former post office.

The library found another home in the newly built Community Center.

In 1981, the Hershey Public Library moved to what originally in 1914 was the M.S.Hershey Consolidated School. This same building later became the Derry Township Middle School on Granada Avenue and part of the Derry Township municipality.

To Now: On April 26, 1997, the library moved to its seventh and current location, a building newly constructed on Cocoa Avenue and dedicated solely to the library. Major renovations began in October 2019 to construct a brand new family entrance, a storytime room, a teen room, and a reading garden. This project was completed in summer 2020.

About our collections:
As of 2020, the library owns more than 102,000 items, including books, DVDs, music on CD, magazines and audio books. Its special collections include the Pennsylvania Collection, Palliative Care Collection, and World Languages Collection. The Pennsylvania Collection, located in the Hershey Room, contains published materials relating primarily to the history and culture of Pennsylvania with a special focus on Derry Township and Dauphin County.
The Palliative Care Collection features materials dealing with care of the ill, death, and grieving, donated by the Association of Faculty and Friends of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The World Languages Collection features a range of materials in foreign languages, including Chinese, Korean, German, Hindi, Russian, and Spanish. In January 1913, the library held 338 books and served 256 patrons.  The library now owns more than 97,047 items (June 2020), and has over 34, 427 (January 2020) registered card holders. How far we have come!

About our Programs and Services:
Hershey Public Library’s in-house services include regular programming, classes, and events for adults, teens, and children; public access computer network; Help desk; interlibrary loan services; meeting room access; a Library on Wheels service for housebound residents of Hershey and Hummelstown. The library also has passes to the Hershey Story Museum and to the Hershey Gardens. And, mobile hotspots to borrow. Free wifi!

About Online Resources:
Hershey Public Library website features an online catalog. Interlibrary loan request form. Electronic databases for research. Digital resources for e-books, audiobooks, comics, magazines, TV shows, movies and music. Information on library programs for all ages. Library events calendar. Friends of the library. Links to websites for special interest. The library is connected online via numerous social networking websites, including Twitter, Instagram as well as Facebook, and a subscription E-Newsletter.

Please visit us for all your research, study and entertainment needs. We look forward to serving you.

Photographs below from 1912 to 1996 were generously provided by the Hershey Community Archives and shown here with permission.

For more information on Derry Township and the surrounding area, please visit Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society.