Bernadette A. Lear, M.L.S.

Bernadette A. Lear
Librarian, Library
Office Phone
Office Location
Library, 301B
Penn State Harrisburg
777 W. Harrisburg Pike
Library, 301B
Middletown, PA 17057

    Ms. Lear, Behavioral Sciences and Education Librarian at Penn State Harrisburg, and Affiliate Faculty, Education Library and Pennsylvania Center for the Book at University Park, has nearly three decades of experience working in libraries, including the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. and the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. She deeply enjoys helping people, and cites library interactions with children, formerly incarcerated persons, international students, LGBTQ+ students, military veterans, students with disabilities, and other diverse clientele as enriching her understanding of what college librarianship can be (and should be). During her career, she has served her profession in various capacities, including as Chair of the Education and Behavioral Sciences Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (2015-2016). Although Ms. Lear has wide-ranging intellectual interests, she is best known for her research on the history of libraries, which she studies as an intersection of U.S. cultural, labor, social, and women's history. With Eric Novotny, she is co-editor of the scholarly journal Libraries: Culture, History, and Society, published by Penn State Press. Ms. Lear's own projects focus on public libraries in Pennsylvania from the Civil War through World War II. Her book, Made Free and Thrown Open to the Public: Community Libraries in Pennsylvania from the Colonial Era through World War II, was published in 2021 by the University of Pittsburgh Press. An article, "Yankee Librarian in the Diamond City: Hannah Packard James, the Osterhout Free Library, and the Public Library Movement in Pennsylvania," published in the journal Pennsylvania History in 2011, won the 2012 Davis Article Award from Library History Round Table of ALA and the 2013 Crist Prize from the Pennsylvania Historical Association. In 2009-2010, 2013-2014, and 2020-2021, Ms. Lear was Chair of LHRT. From 2008 to 2017, she also served as Chair of the Archives and History Committee of the Pennsylvania Library Association. Other areas of interest are American Indian history and literature, which were the focus of her Master's degree in American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg, and Children's Literature, a new focus in her research.

    Areas of Responsibility

    Research Interests
    • History of Libraries/Librarianship

    • Children's Literature


    Lear, B. (2021). Made Free and Thrown Open to the Public: Community Libraries in Pennsylvania from the Colonial Era through World War II. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

    Lear, B. (co-author, 80%) & Pritt, A. (2021). ‘We Need Diverse E-Books:’ Availability of Award-Winning Children’s and Young Adult Titles in Today’s E-Book Platforms. Collection Management 46(3/4), 223-247.

    Pritt, A. & Lear, B. (co-author, 40%) (2021). Are Ada, Katherine, Sally, and Sophie on-Shelf?: Holdings of Award-Winning Juvenile STEM Works in ARL Libraries with a Special Focus on Female-Themed Titles. Collection Management 46(3/4), 302-322.

    Schmit, K. M., & Lear, B. (co-author, 50%) (2018). Frog and Toad's Ongoing Journey: Cooperative Acquisition of Award-Winning Children's and Young Adult Titles at a Multicampus University. College & Research Libraries News, 79(2), 89-92.

    Lear, B. (2016). Nineteenth Century Middle Class Women as Economic Beings: The Early Life and Career of Hannah Packard James, Newton Librarian. Historical Journal of Massachusetts, 44(2), 88-111.

    Lear, B. (50%), & Schmit, K. M. (2015). Frog and Toad Make Friends: Cooperative Development of PreK-12 Collections at a Multicampus University. College & Research Libraries News, 76(10), 534-543.

    Lear, B. (2015). Libraries and Reading Culture at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879-1918. Book History, 18, 166-196.

    Lear, B. (2014). Pennsylvania Public Libraries and the Great Flood of 1936: Dark Clouds and Silver Linings. Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice, 2(2).

    Lear, B. (Secondary Author, 50%), & Mulliken, A. J. (2013). Students with Disabilities in Library Instruction In Patrick Ragains (Ed.), Information Literacy Instruction That Works: A Guide to Teaching by Discipline and Student Population. (2nd ed.), (pp. 65-86). Chicago, IL: American Library Association. Invited.

    Lear, B. (2013). A State Library Transformed: Pennsylvania, 1878-1921. Information & Culture: A Journal of History, 48(1), 26-49.

    Martin, R., & Lear, B. (Co-Author, 50%) (2013). Introduction. Information & Culture: A Journal of History, 48(1), 1-7. Invited. Introduction to journal special issue on the history of state libraries.

    Lear, B. (2012). New Journals in Education and Psychology: General Trends, Discoverability, and Ubiquitous Journals of the Decade, 2000-2009. College & Research Libraries, 73(3), 233-262.

    Lear, B. (2011). Yankee Librarian in the Diamond City: Hannah Packard James, the Osterhout Free Library of Wilkes-Barre, and the Public Library Movement in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, 78(2), 123-62.

    Lear, B. (2009). Were Tom and Huck On-Shelf?: Public Libraries, Mark Twain, and the Formation of Accessible Canons, 1869-1910. Nineteenth-Century Literature, 64(2), 189-224.

    Lear, B. (Primary Author, 60%), Strnad, B., Fabbi, J., Hodges, A. R., Flint, W., & Smith, J. (2009). Directory of Curriculum Materials Centers (6th, 144 pp). Chicago, IL: Association of College and Research Libraries.

    Lear, B. (2009). Recent Approaches in Contemporary Amish Youth Studies: A Book Review Essay. Der Reggeboge (The Rainbow): The Journal of the Pennsylvania German Society, 43(2), 49-53.

    Lear, B. (2009). We Are The Difference: Libraries, History, and Helping Customers. Public Libraries, 48(6), 9-11.

    Lear, B. (2008). Wishing They Were There: Old Postcards and Library History. Libraries & the Cultural Record, 43(1), 77-101.

    Lear, B. (2006). ’Tis Better to be Brief than Tedious’?: The Evolution of the American Public Library Annual Report, 1876–2004. Libraries & the Cultural Record, 41(4), 462-486.

    Lear, B. (2007). The Zen of Serving on Thesis Committees: Being a Midwife for New Scholarship. College & Research Libraries News, 68(10), 632-635.

    Lear, B. (2006). Book History in Scarlet Letters: The Beginning and Growth of a College Yearbook during the Gilded Age. Book History(9), 179-212.

    Lear, B. (2005). The Hippest History. Library Journal, 130(9), 52-53. Discusses the importance of researching, using, and promoting library history.


    B.A.; M.A.; M.L.S. (Rutgers)