The 10 Best Public Libraries in America
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A Public Library is a Literary Oasis.
This post is all about the best public libraries destinations to explore!
Explore stacks of books that have been sitting patiently on your reading list, gather with your community for local events and lectures or cozy up in a nook to do some research for a few hours. No matter if you're a long-time local or you're just passing through, America's most amazing public libraries are worthy of a visit. Take your VIVIDMax Grips and comfortable foot support socks with you for a cozy learning time. Libraries are a precious resource. These libraries represent and help shape the values of the cities they serve. Each one deserves to be cherished, preserved, and celebrated. From remarkable spaces housing historic and rare works to architectural wonders crafted with innovative design, here are some of our favorite public libraries in the country.
1. San Diego Public Library, San Diego, CA
With San Diego Central Library at the core, this system of libraries serves the many neighborhoods of the sprawling city, with 36 branches. The central library opened in its new location in 2013—a nine-story building that houses a charter high school, innovation lab with free computer classes, an art gallery, and the OliverMcMillan I Can! Center for patrons with disabilities. Notably, one of their librarians, Azalea Janel Ebbay, was chosen as a 2019 American Library Association Emerging Leader. And the community love shows, too. Support from groups like Friends of San Diego Library help fulfill their mission: To inspire lifelong learning through connections to knowledge and each other.
CLICK HERE to visit the San Diego Public Library
2. Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, MO
The Kansas City Central Library stands out with its giant "bookshelf" parking garage, featuring 25-foot-tall book spines. This library has won various awards, including consistent 5-star ratings from the "Library Journal." It's easy to see why. They host events like ESL classes, storytimes, and film screenings, and have study rooms and an in-house café where patrons meet and share ideas. With a little help from the Friends of the Kansas City Public Library, this group of 10 branches is able to start programs like the Community Reference Team, which connects people with resources to find jobs, start businesses, grow nonprofits, and manage personal finances. Now that's taking care of business.
CLICK HERE to visit the Kansas City Public Library
3. New York Public Library, New York, NY
One of the most-visited public libraries in the world, New York Public Library is at the forefront of what libraries can do. Innovative campaigns such as Insta Novels, promote reading to new generations. From the beautiful Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, famously featured in many movies and TV shows, to other distinguished sites like the Jefferson Market Library and Yorkville, this world-renowned library system includes four major research libraries and 88 branches. The children's center is home to the real Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, and the calendar of free events—including those of the Library for the Performing Arts—is packed year-round.
CLICK HERE to visit the New York Public Library
4. District of Columbia Public Library, Washington, D.C.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library holds several special collections, including 1.3 million photographs from the "Washington Star" and the documents of the Black Studies Center. It's also home to a 3D printer and the Espresso Book Machine, which collates, covers, and binds a single book in a matter of minutes. The system also added a social worker to engage with the homeless population, a move made possible with support from groups like Friends of the D.C. Public Library. Neighborhood branches include architecturally distinctive Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library.
CLICK HERE to visit the District of Columbia Public Library
5. Seattle Public Library, Seattle, WA
The principal branch in this system is the Central Library with its ultra-modern steel and glass exterior. Unique to this structure is the four-story-high Books Spiral, where patrons can peruse the whole nonfiction collection without using stairs. There are 26 branches in the system, with programs that include free passes to local museums, kid's storytime, job resources, personal reading recommendations, and free writing and publishing classes.
CLICK HERE to visit the Seattle Public Library
6. Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
The worthy mission, "To advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity," guides this system of libraries. Its Parkway Central Library has been doing as much since 1927 and greets visitors in grand Parisian Beaux-Arts style. Areas like the Marie and Joseph Field Teen Center and the Robert and Eileen Kennedy Heim Center for Cultural and Civic Engagement were designed to promote engagement, interaction, and discourse. It's also had measurable community impact, with one study showing it helped nearly 25,000 people learn to read or teach someone else to read.
CLICK HERE to visit the Free Library of Philadelphia
7. Ann Arbor District Library, Ann Arbor, MI
This library system has received 5-star ratings the past 11 years by the "Library Journal," and it's highly regarded among its peers. The main Downtown Library in Ann Arbor has been in operation since 1957, and has a local history section, genealogy reference materials, a large folklore and fairytales collection, as well as various electronic resources. AADL events include film screenings, gaming nights, poetry readings, storytimes, workshops, and crafts.
CLICK HERE to visit the Ann Arbor District Library
8. Chicago Public Library, Chicago, IL
The American Library Association is headquartered in Chicago, so you know this city likes to read. The CPL, which boasts 80 locations and some of the best public libraries in the U.S., includes the central library, Harold Washington Library Center. There, the ninth-floor Winter Garden is a beautifully unique feature, and the Maker Lab includes multiple 3D printers, CNC machines, and laser cutters. It's also the largest public library in the U.S. to eliminate fines for overdue items, forgiving all existing fees. Services include a free lecture series, the Words and Music Program, and free homework help.
CLICK HERE to visit the Chicago Public Library
9. Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis, MN
This network is a vast library system with 41 locations, including impressive suburban libraries with art collections, outreach services for at-home patrons, and other innovative programs. Its largest location, the Minneapolis Central Library, features special historical collections, technology labs, gallery art, a piano room, and energy efficiencies, including a roof garden and substantial daylight. Partially supported by groups like Friends of the Hennepin County Library, these branches are essential parts of their communities and the county as a whole.
CLICK HERE to visit the Hennepin County Library
CLICK HERE to to grab your VIVID Foot Support Socks
10. Boston Public Library, Boston, MA
Home to the third-largest public library in the United States, the city of Boston enjoys riches beyond most book lovers' dreams. Boston Central Library in Copley Square is headquarters to the 24 branches in the system, and the reading room in the McKim Building would turn anyone studious. The libraries host thousands of free programs every year, including author talks, concerts, daily children's events, and therapy dog storytimes.
CLICK HERE to visit the Boston Public Library