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Who We Are

Mission & History

About Us

The Bradford Area Public Library’s service area includes the City of Bradford, Bradford, Corydon, Foster, and Lafayette Townships, and the Borough of Lewis Run. Our fully accessible facility was built in 1991. Our services, programs and dedicated staff continue to honor the promise engraved over the entrance to Bradford’s original 1901 Carnegie Library motto: We remain “Free to the People”.

Bradford Area Public Library (BAPL) is part of the Seneca Library District (seventeen member libraries in the counties of Cameron, Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren).

Seneca Library District

The public libraries of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are divided among 29 geographic regions called districts. The Seneca District, named for the historic home of the Native American Seneca tribes, is located in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

As a part of the Seneca system, BAPL coordinates with the District Center Library, Warren Public Library, which provides services to all member libraries, including counsel, training, reference and information service, Interlibrary loan and delivery service.  Warren Public Library also acts as a liaison between the District and Commonwealth Libraries and is spearheading an effort for Seneca District libraries to offer E-Books in affordable ways, through OverDrive (a digital media service provider).  In late 2011, BAPL was elected to join this shared-cost E-Books’ initiative.

Today, BAPL houses a collection of 45,000+ volumes and provides public meeting space, Monday and Friday preschool story hours, a summer reading program, and public access to 16 computers, as well as free Wi-Fi.  BAPL also participates in the One Screen McKean county-wide cooperative materials database (a unified catalogue of materials in all five McKean County public libraries).

Our Story

Like many Pennsylvania and New York libraries founded in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Bradford Area Public Library (BAPL) was started with a $25,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. A stipulation of the grant was that the building be on a site with good light and that the city guarantees its upkeep at a cost of $3,000 per year. Two small feeder libraries were combined at the newly constructed site to form Bradford’s Carnegie Library. A new librarian (Mr. Fletcher from Buffalo) was retained to combine the two smaller collections in the newest library techniques (Melvil Dewey).

One of its longest tenured librarians, E. Grace Steele, was known for “valiantly fighting ignorance” during her 1920-1959 tenure. In 1991, the Library was required to meet new building and structural codes. Rather than paying for the extensive renovations that were necessary, the Board decided to construct a new building with among other things, enough parking, handicap access, a roof that didn’t leak and adequate electrical service.

Our Mission & Vision

Mission: To provide the resources to inform, educate and enrich our community in a way that demonstrates:

  • Literacy
  • Equal access and diversity
  • Life-long learning
  • Fiscal responsibility and integrity
  • BAPL’s rich heritage

Vision: To be a recognized premier library in service to our community.

Get Involved

You can help the Bradford Public Library in a number of ways.

  • Become a volunteer – Ask for an application at the front desk of the library. Teen volunteers must be older than 13.
  • Participate in the Smile fundraiser. Simply go to: and pick our organization. From there any purchases made, Amazon will donate a small portion to us!
  • Contribute through our annual giving campaign
  • Make a tribute in honor or memory of someone special – Donations are acknowledged with personalized bookplates and note of thanks.  Contribute online, by mail or stop by the library.