The Polk County Historical and Genealogical Library first opened to the public in January 1940. It was originally located in the office of the County Attorney and housed in a metal bookcase (which is still in use today.) 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 second was added in 1974 when the collection was moved to a small frame house on Hendry Street in Bartow. The library returned home to the historic 1908 Old Polk County Courthouse in 1987 after the judiciary moved into a new facility nearby. A ten-year renovation process of the historic courthouse followed, and the library re-opened in the east wing of the building. The library is now part of the Polk County History Center and houses one of the largest collections of genealogical and historical research resources in the southeastern United States.