From The Writer’s Almanac..

“On this day in 1731, a group of young men in Philadelphia pooled their money to set up the first library in America. The idea for a library came about when Benjamin Franklin started a club with about 50 friends so they could debate about politics, morality, and the natural sciences. The group was called the Club of Mutual Improvement. When they disagreed about a topic, they liked to consult books. But books were expensive in those days, so they combined their resources to found a subscription library. They called it the Philadelphia Library Company. The rule was that any “civil gentleman” could browse through the volumes, but only subscribers were allowed to borrow them. The library expanded over the years. Later it moved to Carpenter’s Hall, the building where the First Continental Congress met in 1774. Franklin said that after the library opened, “reading became fashionable, and our people, having no public amusements to divert their attention from study, became better acquainted with books.”

Go to the Writer’s Almanac

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