History of the Ardmore Free Library
In 1899 the Women's Club of Ardmore founded the first of Lower Merion's six libraries with little more than 6 dollars in the treasury, 300 books and plans for the future. The collection was housed in a rented room of the Merion Title and Trust Building and extended its resources to the entire community. In 1917 the Women's Club erected a clubhouse and attached a separate wing that gave the library a permanent home, where it stands today on Ardmore Avenue.
As the community grew, so did the need for additional space. In 1924 Charles Ludington added a new wing to the library to honor the memory of his wife, Ethel Saltus Ludington. The earlier wing became the children's room, while the new addition housed the adult collection. The original clubhouse was demolished in 1981 but the 1917 and 1924 additions remain as the present Ardmore Free Library.
The unusual fountain in front of the library was installed in 1924, through the generosity of Miss Kate Clevenger, in memory of her brother William. Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, a sculptor of national significance, created the unique centerpiece for the fountain.
In 1935 the Ardmore Free Library joined with the other independent libraries within Lower Merion Township to establish the Lower Merion Library Association. Since 1960 the library has operated as part of the Lower Merion Township Library System. The Women's Club of Ardmore disbanded in 1987 after 93 years of service to the community.
A Community Development Block Grant in 1995 and 1996 funded major renovations. A new children's room and multipurpose program room were created in the previously unused lower level of the building. The grant also funded improvements to the heating and air conditioning systems, allowed the wiring to be upgraded to facilitate access to the Internet and an elevator was added. A Library Services and Technology Grant provided a new telephone system and the furnishings for the new space, including chairs, tables and shelving.