Paoli Library has a rich history. The library was founded in 1910. William Shippen Roney formed and chaired the Town Association Library Committee, donating books from his own and his friends’ libraries. This early library was housed in the Paoli Town Hall, formerly a chapel of Paoli Presbyterian Church. In 1920, the group of people from Tredyffrin and Willistown townships who had been supporting the library for 10 years formed the Paoli Library Association. These incorporators, known as subscribers and directors, undertook “to maintain and support a library … in the village of Paoli, Tredyffrin Township, County of Chester, State of Pennsylvania,” and donated funds.
Books were gifts and were not catalogued for many years; bills were met by a membership fee of $1.00 per year and the contributions of association members. The building was improved gradually to include more shelving for books, tables, and sections for programs. In the mid-1950s a part-time professional librarian was hired to catalogue the collection, among other library tasks. For years, Paoli Library functioned on a very small budget; and as a private library it was not eligible for state funding. Book sales and other fundraising efforts supplemented the membership fees, which had risen to $2.00 per year. By 1974, Tredyffrin Township had begun to contribute funds to Paoli Library and the membership fees ended. Chester County also began limited aid to Paoli Library in the 1970s.
In 1965, efforts to ally Paoli Library with the newly formed Tredyffrin Township Library in Strafford began. In 1980, a merger was approved and Paoli Library became a branch of the Tredyffrin Township Libraries. This was done through an agreement between the Paoli Library Association and Tredyffrin Township. In addition, an agreement between Tredyffrin and Willistown townships provided additional support to Paoli Library. In 1986, Tredyffrin Township and Meridian Bank purchased the Paoli Library property to be used as road access and public parking. The quaint old building was scheduled for demolition, but was saved by popular subscription and moved to the Paoli Presbyterian Church grounds, where it again became a chapel as it had been before it was the town hall and library. In return, the bank provided space adjacent to its new addition as a new home for Paoli Library. This shell was finished and furnished by funds from the Paoli Library Association and stocked with the collections of the old library. These quarters were provided under a 30-year lease, which expired in 2016, between the bank and Tredyffrin Township, with the Paoli Library Association as a signatory. The Paoli Library Association, assuring its aim of keeping a library in Paoli, disbanded in 1980 after investing its remaining funds in an annuity to purchase books for the library. The lease has been extended for an additional 5 years so the library’s home will remain with Wells Fargo Bank until at least 2021.