about-us-historyOn October 6, 1927, The Woman’s Club of New Kensington, thru the leadership of Mrs. J.M. Stein and a group of civic-minded citizens of Parnassus, Arnold and New Kensington met for the purpose of planning a public library. For an agreed upon one dollar per person, memberships were granted in the proposed Tri-Borough Free Public Library. (Tri-Borough representing, Parnassus, Arnold, and New Kensington)

The Woman’s Club sponsored concerts with singers and artists from Pittsburgh and New York. These concerts were held in the Opera House and city council chambers on the second floor of the old City Hall on Fourth Avenue. Enough funds were raised for books to have a grand opening on September 10, 1928 in the American Legion Hut. The first librarian was Lillian Sutherland.

In October 1928, 3608 books were circulated to 1666 borrowers. The space was too small to handle the public and certain days were set aside for children’s use only. On July 14, 1930, the library moved to the American Legion Building at the corner of Constitution Boulevard and McCargo Street. In March 1935, the name was changed to Free Public Library. On October 18, 1946, the library was incorporated as the Peoples Library.

During the 1960’s and early 1970’s the library occupied basement space in a building at Seventh Street and Fifth Avenue next door to the Social Security office.

The library became known as the “supermarket” library when in January 1975, it moved into its present location on the corner of Ninth and Barnes Streets, the site of the former Loblaw Super Market.

In 1992, our newly built branch in Lower Burrell at 3052 Wachter Avenue opened.

Excerpt taken from Lore of Yore, a publication of the Women’s Club of New Kensington that highlight the history of the City of New Kensington.

Trustees are appointed to three-year terms per the library’s bylaws.
President Debora Duncan
Vice President Diane Hightower
Secretary Dr. Michael Reed
Treasurer Lindsay Smart
Theresa Bonk
Christine Cancro
Desirée Chronick
Dr. Mimi Kelly
Susan Lutman
Valarie Moses
2024 Peoples Library Board Meetings
Board Meetings are held at 6pm on the following dates:
January 17, 2024 August 21, 2024
March 20, 2024 September 18, 2024
April 17, 2024 October 16, 2024
May 15, 2024 November 20, 2024
June 19, 2024 December 18, 2024

Peoples Library operates with the goal of providing resources and facilities for patrons to make use of in a safe, non-disruptive manner. We appreciate your assistance in adhering to these rules in order to make the library conducive to learning.

The following behaviors are considered to be unsafe and disruptive and will therefore not be tolerated:

  • Consumption of food and/or beverages (except from a library-sponsored program)
  • Use of tobacco products, including smoking
  • Use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Participation in any illegal activities
  • Noisy or boisterous activities that disrupt other library users : screaming, yelling, running, throwing objects
  • Any form of harassment intended to disturb other library users or staff members
  • Bringing pets into the library, other than guide dogs for the visually impaired
  • Profanity of any kind
  • Bringing bikes into the library (they are to be locked up outside the building)
  • Failure to wear shirts and/or shoes
  • Taking photos of others in the library without their permission

The following are specific to children:

  • Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a responsible adult over the age of 18.
  • Certain programs may require the presence of a parent/adult regardless of the age of the child.

The staff member in charge at the time will make the determination regarding what constitutes unsafe and/or disruptive conduct. Library users who fail to abide by these rules will be required to leave the premises. If necessary, the local law enforcement will be contacted to escort individuals from the building.

Peoples Library of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, and Peoples Library of Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania, institutions committed to meeting all patron educational, informational, professional, and recreational wants and needs, seek to further the artistic and cultural interests of the surrounding user community by providing spaces in which the artwork of local artists may be displayed for public viewing.

Peoples Library allows artists to display their artwork for a period of one month. Artwork should be installed by the first weekend of the month and removed during the last weekend of the month in order to provide the next incoming artist time to set up his/her artwork. Displays must remain in place throughout the duration of the dates scheduled.

Peoples Library will not charge artists a fee for the right to display their artwork.

Artists may display their artwork for sale during the duration of the display. In return for the opportunity to display in Library space, Peoples Library requests a commission of 20% for any artwork that is sold.

Artists are responsible for installing their own artwork, as well as arranging and dismantling their display. Peoples Library personnel is not available to assist artists with the installation or removal of their artwork.

Artwork must be ready for display, with two-dimensional work having proper matting, framing, and wire for hanging. All items must be labeled with the artist’s name, the title of the work, and a price or indication of “NFS” if the work is not up for sale. The Library’s hanging system allows for some flexibility in height and location of artwork. No additional hooks, nails, or other fasteners can be attached to the Library’s walls. Additional hangers are available. The Library will not, however, provide other display materials or storage space.

Artists are chosen on a first-come, first-booked basis. While all artwork will be considered, the display space will not be provided for commercial, or for specifically religious or political purposes. Peoples Library makes the final decision on the content and arrangement of all artwork accepted.

Peoples Library reserves the right to censor or refuse the display of content that is determined inappropriate, that does not conform to the Library’s collection development policy and/or other applicable library policies, or that does not uphold the Library’s cultural, as well as overall, missions. In addition, all displays must meet existing State and Federal laws on obscenity, libel, defamation of character, or invasion of privacy.

Peoples Library is not responsible for any artwork that is lost, damaged, or stolen while on display. Peoples Library does not insure displays.

The presentation of any artwork does not imply an endorsement of the display by Peoples Library, its Trustees, or its staff members.

Spaces Available for Artwork Displays

  • Peoples Library, New Kensington
    • Wall Space
    • Peoples Library Conference Room*
  • Peoples Library, Lower Burrell
    • Wall Space

*Displays in the Peoples Library Conference Room shall be available to the general public only when no other meetings are in session. No meetings shall be interrupted to install, remove, or view any display while a meeting is in session.

Applying for Display Space

Artists who are interested in displaying their artwork must complete the proper application form. Print application forms may be picked up from the Peoples Library Circulation Desk, or, for a downloadable PDF of the application form, click here. (currently https://peopleslibrary.org/ArtApplicationForm.pdf)

Completed application forms can be submitted via email to peopleslibraryevents@gmail.com or via snail mail at 880 Barnes Street, New Kensington, PA, 15068, attn: Request for Display Space.

Peoples Library makes space available to the public in accordance with Article VI of the Library Bill of Rights. “Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.” Practical application of this service basis is given in the guidelines below.

The library does not endorse or advocate the viewpoints of non-library sponsored events or speakers.

Any organization that is approved to rent space at either library location who wishes to advertise the program must indicate that the program is not sponsored nor endorsed by Peoples Library. This rule is applicable to any form of advertising.

Programs may not be disruptive of the library or its mission and must adhere to the behavior policy as defined by Peoples Library.

Preference in reservations will be, in descending order, to library-sponsored events, programs, and meetings , to groups affiliated with the library, to groups for children and young adults, and to neighborhood and community groups.

All meetings held in library facilities must be open to the public without charge and must be not for profit events except with the specific permission of the Library Board of Trustees.

Details of Who May Use the Facility

  • The meeting rooms are available to not-for-profit groups for programs of an informational, educational, cultural, or civic nature, subject to this policy.

The Facilities Use Committee or time permitting the full Board of Trustees will review each for-profit organizations request to use the meeting room. Business firms and other for-profit organizations the library board deems are harmonious with the mission and objectives of the library will be permitted to use the facility.

Details of Who May Not Use the Facility

  • Organizations offering programs, which involve the sale, advertising or promotion of products or services.
  • Private social functions, such as showers, birthday parties, dances, etc.
  • Programs not in keeping with the library goals and objectives, or which would interfere with the library’s operation by causing excessive noise, a safety hazard, security risk, etc.
  • No admission or suggested donations may be required without the specific permission of the Library Board of Trustees.

Use of tobacco products, the consumption of alcoholic beverages, or gambling is prohibited. Light refreshments are permitted.

Space reservations should be made and required deposits paid at least one week in advance. Requests made less than one week in advance will be honored, space available. The schedule for each facility will be maintained at that building’s circulation desk. An authorized staff member must enter all reservations into the appropriate schedule. The library reserves the right to ask groups to choose alternate meeting dates as need requires.

The person reserving the facility time is responsible for all room charges and damage assessments and must sign the Library’s hold harmless agreement.

Room rental fees for non-profit organizations are $25 per event per day. Room rental fees for-profit organizations are $100 per event per day. Organizations may be eligible for a reduced room rental fee if multiple meetings are scheduled.

A late charge of $10 per each ½ hour past scheduled departure time will be charged. Special arrangements can be made for extended hours for an additional fee.

Room setup, clean up, and breakdown are the responsibility of the reserving party. Janitorial assistance is available for $10/hour, if available. Future rentals are dependent upon respectful use.

All facilities must be left clean and neat. All trash must be placed in plastic bags within the outdoor trash receptacles. Aluminum, steel, cardboard, and glass should be bagged separately.

Room occupancy limits, as determined by local and state building codes.

The library staff will not carry messages to meeting participants. Staff will note any incoming calls. It is the responsibility of the room users to check with the circulation staff for any messages.

To ensure that all records relating to patron registration and the subsequent use of and circulation by patrons of materials provided by the Library are considered confidential in nature.

  • 24 PA. Cons. Stat. Sec. 4428: Library circulation records
  • American Library Association, Code of Ethics, Section III
  • American Library Association, Confidentiality of Library Records Policy (52.4)
  • American Library Association, Privacy: an Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights

The Board of Trustees of Peoples Library specifically recognizes the confidentiality of records related to circulation of Library materials that contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of the Library in accordance with Pennsylvania law: 24 Pa. Cons. Stat. Sec. 4428.

The Board of Trustees supports the concept of intellectual freedom and the right of each citizen, regardless of age, to free access to information without fear of intimidation or recrimination. The Library’s confidentiality policy safeguards the first amendment and privacy right of Library users. The Library advises employees, volunteers, and patrons that all Library records that contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of the Library are confidential.

If the New Kensington Arnold School District closes due to snow or ice conditions, Peoples Library New Kensington will be closed. This does not apply to closures due to cold temperatures. Peoples Library does not close for school district delays. If Burrell School District closes due to snow or ice conditions, Peoples Library Lower Burrell will be closed. This does not apply to closures due to cold temperatures. Peoples Library does not close for school district delays. Watch for weather related closure information on KDKA.

View KDKA School Closings

Any person 18 years of age or older can obtain a library card by showing one form of photo ID and proof of residency. For children and teens under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian with whom the child lives must come to the library and show one form of photo ID and proof of residency.

If unable to show a current photo ID, then two items displaying proof of residency are required: (1) Proof of residency and (2) Any of the following are valid: Current PA Driver’s License or Non-Driver ID Card, Voter Registration Card, Check Book, Vehicle Registration, Insurance Card, Lease or Current Rent Receipt, Property Tax Receipt, or Piece of Mail.

If you have recently moved and are not yet receiving mail, you can stop in at either of our two locations and fill out a postcard which you will address to yourself at your address. When you receive the postcard in the mail, bring it back to the library and this can serve as your piece of mail.


Item Loan Period Can Be Renewed?*(In person, by phone, or online)
Adult Bestsellers and other Adult New books 21 days Yes
DVDs / Videos 21 days Yes
Books Adult & Young Adult 21 days Yes
Children's Books 21 days Yes
Music CDs, Books on CD, Books on Tape 21 days Yes

*A library card is required for all renewals. Items other than those on reserve can be renewed 3 times. Online renewals must be completed by midnight on the day they are due.

If an item is not returned, the item's status changes to lost and the amount owed is the cost of the item.

Use your Visa, MasterCard or Discover to pay your fees online today!

To pay fees, visit the Catalog, login to My Account and select Fines and Fees.

+ Pay fines through the catalog

Renewing Items

If another patron does not have a hold on the item you are trying to renew it may be renewed 3 times.

You can renew in person at either Peoples Library location.  You can also renew items over the phone or online at www.wlnonline.org with your library card number and password.  If you have not changed your password, it defaults to the last four digits of your phone number.

Returning Items

Items can be returned to either Peoples Library location or any of the public libraries in the Westmoreland Library Network www.wlnonline.org.  Contact information for the libraries is available by clicking here.

Charges for lost or damaged items will be the replacement cost of the item(s), as determined by the Library. An item is considered damaged when its condition warrants its replacement.

Replacement items are to be purchased by the Library only - please do not make replacement purchases from outside vendors. Item replacement charges can be paid with cash, check, or credit card (online only).

Failure to pay fines and other charges will result in the restriction or loss of borrowing privileges.

The Library assumes no responsibility for possible damage to equipment caused by Library audiovisual materials.

Services Fee
Computer Prints & Copies $0.15 per side/page
Replacement Library Card* $2.00

*one free replacement per 12 months

Take a stroll down memory lane with our vast collection of high school yearbooks at Peoples Library New Kensington! The collection spans 75+ years of cherished high school memories from Ken High, Arnold High, and Valley High School.

Take a virtual walk through the historic New Kensington area by viewing Peoples Library's new collection of historic postcards against the backdrop of current street views courtesy of History Pin in collaboration with Google Maps!