The Erie County Library was formed in 1949 and housed in the Behrend Center from 1950-54. The Bookmobile was the primary service of the Library. In 1955 the County Library moved to free space provided at the Priestly Avenue School. The Library then moved its headquarters to the building at 4212 Iroquois Avenue in Lawrence Park Township in 1966. The building was constructed in 1951 for industrial arts classes and was given to the Library free of rent by the Lawrence Park School District.
In 1976 the Erie County Public Library and the Erie Metropolitan Library merged to become the Erie City and County Library and the facility on Iroquois Avenue became the Lawrence Park Branch Library. The Branch was refurbished in the fall of 1978 with funding from the Iroquois School District and the Library General Fund.
In 1995, Dr. Raymond M. Blasco, MD created an Endowment Fund through the Erie Community Foundation, that is to benefit the Erie County Public Library. The purpose of the Fund is to construct new freestanding branch libraries for Erie County Library users and to supplement the library materials budget.
In 1998 a five-year plan for the funding of Pennsylvania Libraries was increased sufficiently to allow the County Library to continue operating its branches. The Erie Regional Library Foundation was then incorporated in 2000, to fund the construction of branches to replace the existing rental and/or donated facilities. These rental facilities could no longer accommodate the public’s need for technology and other library services.
The Iroquois Avenue Library is the first freestanding branch library for the County, and the site was selected on 4212 Iroquois Avenue from a Branch Task Force which was made up of representatives from the County including: the County Executive, the Library Director, members of the Library Advisory Board, Erie Regional Library Foundation representatives, and Friends of the Erie County Public Library.
The architectural firm of Weber, Murphy, Fox was selected and construction of the new branch began in the fall of 2001. The library was temporarily relocated to Lawrence Park Municipal Building next door. The design of the building was to incorporate local history, architecture and personality of the surrounding area. The “theme” of a small town Railroad Station was chosen with the interior design to be the “Arts and Crafts/Mission Style” of the 1920’s. The new building is 5,240 square feet in size and includes separate children’s and multi-purpose meeting rooms and a Clock Tower Reading Lounge.
A “donor recognition” tree commemorates and is designed in the shape of the historic “Elbow Tree” that has occupied one of the local parks for over 100 years. Leaves can be purchased for the donor tree that will be on permanent display in the foyer of the new library.
Monday, September 30th was the opening date for the new Iroquois Avenue Branch Library with a “Grand Opening” in mid-October, 2002.