Through the vision and dedication of Helen Freeman, the Robesonia Community Library has come into being. In 1968, while president of the Women’s Club of Robesonia, Helen initiated her dream, then inspired, persuaded, and cajoled club members into sponsoring the birth of a library for the community of Robesonia; then she actively continued her dedication for fourteen years as its president and board member.
The Borough Council agreed to house the library in the 12-foot X 18-foot annex (formerly used as a kitchen for church suppers by Trinity Lutheran Church). This space was also being used as a corridor to the Council and Police meeting rooms and had to be closed when elections were held. Not an ideal situation, but it was a start! The new library’s books were donated by the town’s citizens, shelves were found, a desk and chair were donated, and a dedicated group of volunteers made it work—for two hours one day a week. These hours grew quickly as books were obtained (200 per month rotation) from the Reading Public Library. For several years, the early librarian did needed paperwork in her home, for lack of adequate space. Later, the Library Board/ Borough Council were able to offer a small salary to the librarian.
In 1979, the need for more space prompted the organizing of the Friends of the Robesonia Library; they in turn “kicked off” a Building Fund Drive for $40,000 in 1981. The borough Council agreed to furnish materials and space for an addition to the Borough Hall, for the specific use of the Library. The Friends recruited both skilled and unskilled volunteer laborers and paid for the furnishings, carpeting, and equipment. By December of 1983, the library space had more than doubled and had evolved into a library now recognized by the County System of Libraries. It was open sixteen hours per week and staffed by a qualified librarian plus the still faithful bank of volunteers, one of whom was 88 years old, Robert Gerhart ( a third generation Robesonia resident). Funding was always a struggle, even with the steady help of the Borough Council, who supplied the quarters and aided in paying salaries.
For the next decade, the library flourished under the leadership of a qualified and caring librarian and assistant. Community programs were begun-- story telling for “tots”, a “Great books” program, book review, and guest speakers, to name a few. The Friends continued their support with an annual Book Sale/Bake Sale, bus trips to New York shows, Reading Pops concerts, etc. Needed equipment miraculously appeared, thanks to the largess of the Friends. Also, county/state aid began to make a difference. With that aid, we were able to increase, and keep current, our reference and nonfiction books, add books on tape, and offer a wider selection of fiction. Our Service to the community multiplied, as did the fund-raising results from its residents and surrounding business establishments. In fact our library grew to be so successful that we once again urgently needed more space.
In the 1990s, we were officially ushered into the computer age. Required by the county/state, all libraries received a start-up computer and the technical help to run it. Very quickly, all Berks County libraries were connected by computer, which meant we could request and receive books from any library in the county. Later, Access Pennsylvania allowed statewide circulation. To date, the number of computers has to ten, six of which are used by the public.
In 1995, the new Robesonia Borough Hall was dedicated and included a superior library space. Its design was the result of borough, county, and state input, and the Robesonia residents are reaping the benefits; the new accommodations effectively doubled the library’s space—again. Along with our new proper Hall/Library, we were fortunate to find a super qualified librarian. For seven years she, along with top assistants, expertly guided our library through its “growing pains”, largely caused by new county/state rules. Working closely with the County System, she helped bring our library into the 21st century. Her devoted leadership brought our Robesonia Library top honors in 2003. During her leadership, our annual library circulation more than doubled to 77,137.
While the economic future is uncertain, the Robesonia community Library is a rock-solid institution and will make necessary adjustments to survive and continue to serve the community with excellence. This Robesonia treasure is here to stay!
Director: Susan Eshleman
Youth Services Coordinator: Leah Ruth
Library Aide: Eileen Lamm
Library Aide: Sara Moyer
Library Aide: Barbara Borkert
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The Robesonia Library Board meets the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7 pm; no meetings in July or December. Meetings are held in the Robesonia Borough Hall Meeting Room and are open to the public. Board meeting minutes are available on our website or by calling the Director at 610-693-3264. The Board can also be contacted at Robesonialibboard@gmail.com.
President: Mindy Cohen
Vice President: Alyssa Bushkie
Secretary: Laura Yazemboski
Treasurer: Wendy Beard
Borough Liaison: Carol Werkheiser
Board Member: Kennon Rice
Board Member: Jena Sweigart
2021 Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes
2020 Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes
2019 Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes