Library Company of Burlington
ContactLibrary Company of Burlington
23 West Union Street
Burlington, NJ 08016
Founded in 1757, The Library Company of Burlington is the oldest library in continuous operation in New Jersey and has the distinction of being the seventh oldest in the United States. It was chartered by British monarch King George II for founder Thomas Rodman and chief officer John Reading. The founding members paid membership fees to join and annual dues alongside the donation of over 700 of their own books. The Library Company of Burlington was the first library in the U.S. to publish a catalog of books in 1758. Originally the library was housed in a rented room in the home of Thomas Rodman on High Street. The first circulated book was The Invisible Spy, borrowed by Thomas Robinson. The last Royal Governor of New Jersey, William Franklin (son of patriot Benjamin Franklin) was a library patron during his tenure, beginning in 1763. Prominent resident Joseph Bloomfield donated land near the southeast corner of High Street and East Broad Street (Library Street) in 1789. This wooden structure was the first library building in the state, and was in continuous use until 1864 when a new library building opened on West Union Street. As a Director of the Library for many decades and the head of its Building Committee, James Sterling saw the need for a new facility to replace the crowded older building. He bequeathed $5,000 to the library on the provision that a new building be obtained - bought or built - within two years of his death. The citizens of Burlington, including Mrs. Julia Grant, wife of General Ulysses S. Grant, rallied around the institution. A suitable property was purchased, plans were drawn, and subscriptions and fundraisers were organized to help pay for construction of the beautiful brownstone structure which still houses the collections. In 1958, the Library Company expanded this building and the Children’s Room was added behind the original 1864 room. Today, the library continues its uninterrupted service to the public, serving customers with historical volumes dating back as far as 1521.