Gifts and subscriptions sustained the library from 1901 through 1920. In 1920, the school board began providing a $10,000 a year allotment; however, in 1924, the school board withdrew this appropriation. This withdrawal threatened to close the doors of the library. Rather than face a future with no public library, the Bethlehem community voted in 1924 to approve a half-mill tax in support of the library.
When the library had outgrown its facilities on Market Street, yet again the public offered its support. In 1965 it was learned that $500,000 in federal funds would be available through the state for a library. Bethlehem Globe-Times publisher, Rolland Adams, offered a gift of $250,000 toward a new library if it were matched by private contributions. City Council agreed to provide an additional $500,000 if the gifts and other funds were forthcoming. Within one month the citizens of Bethlehem pledged over $292,000, and the new library was begun on August 17, 1965. A little over two years later, on November 11, 1967, the citizenry again rallied to support their library as over 700 volunteers moved 80,000 volumes from the old to the new building.
The community continues to provide support for the library through their patronage, financial support and volunteerism. Throughout its years, the Bethlehem Area Public Library attempted to return the favor by being available to the public in their time of need.
During World War I libraries nationwide met the need for reading materials for the armed services. In 1917 and 1918 soldier’s library funds were called for and delivered by the Bethlehem Area Public Library. During the Great Depression, the library proved to be a source of comfort and a place of refuge for the unemployed. The benefits of the library are exemplified in its use with nearly half the population as registered users.
Throughout the remainder of the century, the Bethlehem Area Public Library met the expectations of the community through traditional and new mediums of communication.
Initiated in 1965, interlibrary loan extends the resources of the library’s patrons. The addition of records, films, microfilms, slides, cassettes, videocassettes and compact discs meets the public’s need for extended services and offerings. The Bookmobile, a service that began operations in 1971, has been a great success among adults and children who might not otherwise have access to the library’s holdings.