Pennsylvania Room is an information destination

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The Warren Public Library’s Pennsylvania Room contains a variety of sources, from government documents to local history, genealogy to military units, local maps and photos, and others.

Whether someone is looking for some genealogical information, historical data about Warren County, or for a quote from one of the past six presidents, a trip to the Warren Public Library’s Pennsylvania Room could do the trick.

The Pennsylvania Room is a carefully climate-controlled space at the back of the reference room.

It holds many treasures for those interested in history.

The GovDocs wall is just to the left inside the door.

“We are part of the Federal Depository Library Program,” Reference and Adult Services Department Head Courtney Hoover said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Warren Public Library Reference Assistant Jennifer Knisley looks through the 1878 Illustrated Atlas of Warren County in the library’s Pennsylvania Room.

A variety of public government documents are included in the collection.

“The Pennsylvania Code gets used a lot,” Hoover said. “We have U.S. Statutes.”

“We have the Public Papers of the Presidents,” she said.

Every public word uttered by Presidents of the United States since 1984 is captured in those books.

“If you want to look up what George W. Bush said about 9/11, it’s in there,” she said.

So far, the Papers through 2015 are on-hand. The library is still receiving updates from the Obama years.

GovDocs is only part of what the room has to offer, though.

“We have all the local history books that have been published,” Reference Assistant Jennifer Knisley said. “There is a lot of oil and lumber and geological surveys.”

“We get a lot of questions about buildings and houses,” Knisley said.

Polk City Directories containing residents, businesses, and addresses from the present back to 1870 are located in the room. For those starting with more information and looking for a little less detail, there are phone books.

There are also plat books — showing property lines — available for the county from 1969 to 2010.

Knisley pulled out the Illustrated Atlas of Warren County, which dates to 1878.

“We do have genealogies that have been published on different families,” she said. “We have military records… including the records from the Daughters of the American Revolution.”

There are histories of the state’s volunteer regiments.

Some of the county’s cemeteries are mapped out in materials in the room.

There is a copy of the Trivia Game of Warren County and one of Women of Warren (1988) by the Warren County Women’s History Committee.

The local history that can be found in the Pennsylvania Room is not limited to settlers from overseas and their descendants.

“Anyone that wants to learn about the Seneca, Iroquois, Cornplanter…” can find a number of sources in the room, Knisley said.

Two sections of the room are devoted to Warren County, but there are books that pertain to other counties in the state.

A file cabinet near the door holds drawers full of photos and a card catalog for them.

Because of the ages of many of the materials in the Pennsylvania Room, the space is kept cool and dry. Those looking to explore some of the information are welcome to have a seat somewhere else in the warmer areas of the reference department while they read, but those materials must stay in the department.

Just outside the Pennsylvania Room are a few other commonly-utilized and less delicate works. The reference room has a copy of every Warren High School and Warren Area High School yearbook published — there were no yearbooks in two years, Knisley said. There are a number of Beaty-Warren Middle School yearbooks, some from Eisenhower and Youngsville high schools, and at least one from the Lander school.

The library also has the Mayflower Families, for those hoping to track their roots back to that vessel.

Soon, the detail from the 1950 census will arrive in the reference room.

General data from each census is made available and used in a number of ways. Details are not disclosed for a long time.

“They have a 72-year rule that any personal records can’t be released,” Knisley said.

But, once that time has passed, “the information, down to the individual, is released.”

She expects the virtual and hopefully microfilm documents to arrive in the library in April.

The librarians encourage people to visit, whether they are looking for something specific for a project or just interested in the county and its history.

“Sometimes it’s fun to come in and browse,” Hoover said. “We get new documents all the time.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today