Library Company of Burlington NJ

Chartered by His Majesty King George II in 1758


   Our Mission 
In 2013, the Trustees unanimously approved the following statement of mission for the Library Company of Burlington: 

The mission of the Library Company of Burlington is to further the advancement of knowledge and literature through access to services, programs and collections which serve the cultural, educational, vocational, and recreational needs in the City and Township of Burlington.

The portions of the mission statement shown in red were extracted from our original charter, issued by King George II in 1758.



In 1757 The Library Company of Burlington was chartered by British monarch King George II for founder Thomas Rodman and John Reading as chief officer. It is the oldest library in continuous operation in New Jersey, and has the distinction of being the seventh oldest in the United States. The founding members paid both a membership fee to join and annual dues, and donated over 700 of their own books to start the Library. The Library Company of Burlington was the first library in the U.S. to publish a catalogue of books (1758).

Originally the library was housed in a rented room in the home of Thomas Rodman on High Street. The first circulated book was The Invisible Spy, borrowed by Thomas Robinson. The last Royal Governor of New Jersey, William Franklin (son of patriot Benjamin Franklin) was a library patron during his tenure as royal governor, beginning in 1763.

The library moved several times, always renting rooms in local houses, before acquiring its own land and building in 1789. Prominent resident Joseph Bloomfield donated land near the southeast corner of High Street and East Broad Street (Library Street) for the construction of a building solely to house the Library’s collections. This wooden structure was the first library building in the state, and was in continuous use until 1864.

Through the vision and generosity of James Sterling and the efforts of the citizens of Burlington, a new library building opened on West Union Street in 1864.  As a Director of the Library for many decades and the head of its Building Committee, Sterling saw the need for a new facility to replace the crowded older building. He bequeathed $5000 to the Library on the provision that a new library building be obtained - bought or built - within 2 years of his death. The citizens of Burlington, including Mrs. Julia Grant, wife of General Ulysses S. Grant, rallied around the institution. A suitable property was purchased, plans were drawn, and subscriptions and fundraisers were organized to help pay for construction of the beautiful brownstone structure which still houses our collections.

In 1957, the Library Company expanded this building, and the Children’s Room was added behind the original 1864 room.

Today, the library continues its uninterrupted service to the public, serving patrons with historical volumes dating back as far as 1521, current bestsellers, CDs, DVDs, fast broadband worldwide web access workstations, and personalized service.

 Board Officers and Members 



President Alexander Shultz
Vice President Walter Haworth
Treasurer William Buehrig
Secretary Douglas Ghaul



Member Elrich Green
Member Thomas Scattergood, Esq.
Member Barbara Fisher
Member Anthony J. Carnivale, Jr.
Member Patricia Taylor
Member Stephen Simon

 Policies and Procedures   

In 2012, the Library Company of Burlington rose to the challenge of meeting greater and more varied customer needs. The support of the City of Burlington, the Township of Burlington, Trustees, the Friends of the Library and local residents, Th

e Library Company of Burlington served a record number of patrons this year.

During difficult economic times, the Library Company of Burlington serves an especially important role of helping local residents return to work. Many residents lack the means to buy their own computers and pay for Internet access. They count on the library to access equipment and on-line services to search and apply for jobs. The Library Company of Burlington provides this technology, and also helps patrons to navigate through the internet to find what they needed. The need for on-line access 

for the underserved will only intensify in the future as more employers and government agencies provide information in digital-only form and also require information to be submitted on line. 

 Library Logo 

The Great Seal of the Library Company of Burlington features a “skep” or bee-hive, symbol of Industry (“busy as a bee”). It rests on books (Knowledge) atop a pillar of Science built on a foundation of Truth, buttressed by Literature and Art. The motto, “Extract from every flower is sweet”, often accompanied the Seal.


The library has been in continuous operation since it was chartered by King George II in 1758, and still to this day, we continue to operate under this charter.

Read the Charter