On May 7, 1904, the Aegis and Intelligencer announced that "the Bel Air Circulating Library is closing up its affairs, and all persons who have any of its books are requested to return the same to Miss Mollie Bateman within the next two weeks." The library was permanently closed July 31, 1904. The Bel Air Circulating Library opened in 1885 on Main Street near the Court House. A $5 membership fee, later reduced to $1, permitted users to take home one book at a time, or if residing "in the country," two books. Open Tuesdays and Saturdays, the library contained 200 "choice books" by "standard authors" such as Dickens, Irving and Twain. Additional books could be found in the reading rooms, which were open daily to offer young men a comfortable place to "read, play games and smoke," or just "to rest or meet their friends, with the assurance that they are entirely welcome."
Source: Harford Historical Bulletin 67 (Winter 1996). Harford Historical Bulletin 99 (Fall 2004)
Compiled by the staff of the Harford County Public Library