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Historical and Genealogical Library


The Polk County Historical and Genealogical Library, located on the second floor of the Polk County History Center, is one of the largest facilities of its type in the area with more than 40,000 items in the collection. These include books, microfilm, and periodicals containing information about the history and genealogy of the eastern United States.

A selection of materials related specifically to the history of Polk include newspapers, aerial photographs, city directories, property tax rolls, cemetery records and more. The library website contains a number of online resources, including indexes to Polk marriages, cemeteries and obituary records. Visitors with a Polk County Library Cooperative library card have free access to while visiting.

The library is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with staff members and volunteers ready to assist patrons with historical and genealogical research projects.


The Polk County Historical and Genealogical Library first opened to the public January 1940 and was originally located in the County Attorney's office. As the collection expanded, the library occupied several locations within the old Polk County Courthouse, including the attic and a third floor closet. The first full-time staff member was hired in 1968 and a few years later in 1974, when the collection was moved to a small frame house on Hendry Street in Bartow, a second staff member was added.

The library returned home to the historic 1908 Old Polk County Courthouse in 1987 after the judiciary moved into a new facility nearby. A 10-year renovation process of the historic courthouse followed, and the library re-opened in the east wing of the building. The library is part of the Polk County History Center occupying the second and third floors. It is also a member of the library cooperative, which provides many functions and services for patrons such as checking in PCLC library books.

Use of Library Materials

Visitors are required to sign in at the desk on the second floor and a library card is not required. The public access computers allow for free access to while on site. Patrons may use their own laptops and free wireless access is available.

Please remember that food and drinks are not allowed while using the library and cell phones should be placed on silent or vibrate. Use of tobacco products and consumption of alcohol is prohibited in the building.

This library is a non-circulation collection and materials may not be loaned or removed from the building. Library patrons may download information to personal USB drives or print copies in the library at a cost of 15 cents per page. Requests for copies or scans of materials received by email, phone or U.S. mail are subject to an additional $2 service charge. Due to the unique nature of this collection, some items may not be available to copy or scan and will be left to the discretion of the staff.

A partial list of available research materials in our special collection can be found by clicking the Documents link on the left. Links to other research materials in our collection can be found by clicking on the Catalog or Digital Collection links.

Contact Us

Preston Petermeier
Research and Genealogy Historian

Phone: (863) 534-4380 Main
Phone: (863) 534-4604

100 E. Main St.
Bartow, FL 33830

Office Hours of Operation:
Tuesday through Saturday:
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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