Panevėžys County Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library is the first State library and the oldest State cultural institution in Panevėžys, established in 1922, opened as a branch of the Central State Book Store. At that time, there were 1,783 books in its funds, all newspapers and magazines published in Lithuania, a few newspapers arriving from Germany and USA. Having covered an interesting and purposeful historical road, today the library contains over half a million of publications, over 500,000 readers and more than 300,000 virtual readers visit it annually.
September 1, 1922 the first state public library was opened in Panevėžys.
1940–1944 the library’s plans were altered by the Soviet occupation. During the years of Soviet and later German occupation the library experienced immense losses – the fund was significantly diminished by removing all the publications that did not suit the Soviet ideology. Only the library’s name remained the same, while its fund’s structure and theme as well as functioning changed dramatically.
1945–1989 during the years of the second Soviet occupation the library worked under harsh conditions of soviet ideology, trying hard to remain the beacon of culture and education.
September 21, 1989 the library was named after the famous public figure, writer, teacher Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė.
March 11, 1990 the act was signed to restore Lithuania as an independent country. The library opened a new page in history. The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania gained the function of the library’s founder, making the library accountable to it.
1991 the library started collecting the manuscript funds of renowned people of Panevėžys region. It was the time when the library started forming the fund of the world famous artist multifunctionalist Stasys Eidrigevičius. Born in this region, the artist is fond of the library and continuously gifts new objects to the fund.
1992 the library bought its first computer.
1995 the Law of Libraries of the Republic of Lithuania was issued and announced the library as the main public institution for culture and education in Panevėžys region.
1996 the library opened its art gallery “2nd floor”.
1996 the library’s subunit Juozas Miltinis Heritage Study Centre was opened. The centre reveals to the public the immense heritage of the famous founder and director of Panevėžys drama theatre. The fund boasts the director’s private library, manuscripts and photographs, art collection, recordings of the rehearsals, video library, and personal belongings.
1998 the library started the cycle of scientific conferences and organised the first conference “Private Library – Part of Nation’s Historical Memory”. Organising annual scientific conferences has become a library’s tradition.
2000 the European information centre was established in the library. Its mission is to inform Lithuanians about Lithuanian integration into the European Union and about the union itself.
2001 library’s reading rooms were provided with the internet marking the beginning of e-services in the library.
2002 the library joined the activities of Lithuania’s national bibliographical data bank creation.
2006 the fund of Juozas Miltinis Heritage Study Center was included in the national register of the UNESCO program “Memory of the World”.
2007 following the wish of Marija and Kazimieras Barenai the library established Kazimieras Barėnas Literary Prize to encourage young, talented writers.
2007 the library organised the first national literary festival „Panevėžio literatūrinė žiema“ (“Panevėžys Literary Winter”), which later became traditional and grew into an international one.
2008 the first county computer literacy center in Lithuania was opened in the library. It was part of the national project, financed by Bill and Melinda Gates.
2009 Juozas Urbšys Social Thinking and Culture Centerwas established in a farmstead in Panevėžys district. J. Urbšys, a diplomat, translater, the Minsiter of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, used to live in this farmstead (1905–1907) and later visited it.
April 8, 2010 the scientific conference “Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė in Lithuania’s Cultural Context” was held. The conference was opened by the President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė.
2014 the library acquired “Bluthner” piano which was the gift of the member of the European Parliament Antanas’ Guoga fund.
2016 the library created the website „Panevėžio kraštas virtualiai“ (“Panevėžys Region Vrtually“). The website presents the region’s history and culture, reveals and actualizes its heritage.
2016 a regional digitalization center was established in the library. This center digitalizes the cultural heritage – manuscripts, rare publications, photographs – held in Panevėžys and Utena county public libraries.
2017 the library signed its first international cooperation agreement with Karlovy Vary regional library.
2018 the library organized its first international symposium “Innovative educational practices in a librarian’s work. Educational activities, challenges and possibilities.”