Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Informal Library in Clifton Heights, Pennsylvania

My favorite place to go in my neighborhood

My home town of Clifton Heights has a rather unusual library.  It’s so unusual that most residents are completely unaware that it exists.  When asked where the closest library is, A Clifton Heights resident will most likely direct you to the public libraries in Lansdowne or Upper Darby.  But one library exists, unheralded and mostly ignored inside of the Clifton Heights Borough Hall.

The Informal Library

This library lacks many of the things a usual library has.  It does not have librarians, books organized into categories or even steady hours.  But it also does have due dates.  The library is based entirely on the honor system.  Residents can take as many books as they want, although they are requested to bring other books they do not want in compensation.

The library is the first room on the left as soon as you walk into the Borough Hall doors.  Often the lights are out.  Just open the door and switch on the lights.  Inside the vast room, you’ll see a lot of empty tables and chairs.  This is where Veteran’s Administration meetings, council meetings and voting takes place. 

But flanking the room are large, stately wooden bookshelves crammed with books, old textbooks and tons of Reader’s Digest Condensed Book tombs.  You never know what you are going to find at the informal library.  I try to only go a few times a year in order to ensure the largest turnover possible.  I like to savor the occasion as it’s such a treat.


The library is mostly open when the Borough Hall is open.  However, if there is a meeting going on, then the doors will be locked.  You are allowed to look for books while voting is going on, as long as you do not bother the volunteers helping out that day.  They usually park their desks in front of one wall of bookcases.

Bring a large tote bag or backpack and fill it up.  Don’t expect to see a lot of books or authors that you recognize.  But this is a great chance to expand your reading horizons and sample all kinds of authors and genres for free.  Bring a sense of humor.  Some volunteers do try and sort out the shelves, but mostly they are a hodge-podge of categories. 

Clifton Heights Borough Hall
30 South Springfield Road
Clifton Heights, PA 19018


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