Local Public Libraries

These are libraries owned by local or city governments, meant for the use of residents. Some are housed in modest buildings, others are impressive in size and holdings. Many of the most beautiful American public libraries were financed by Andrew Carnegie in the early 20th century; others are new buildings of modern design.


flickr.com (T. Scott Carlisle)

The New York Public Library Main Branch Building is one of the world's most recognizable libraries, with its iconic stone lions (named Patience and Fortitude)
guarding the entrance. The Library's famous Rose Main Reading Room, shown above, has 52-foot-high ceilings.



The original Chicago Public Library, now used as the Chicago Cultural Center, built in 1897. It contains the world’s largest Louis Comfort Tiffany art glass dome, with approximately 30,000 pieces of glass spanning more than 1,000 square feet.



The Berkeley Public Library in Berkeley, California.


photholic.com (Alberto Turiel)

The Boston Central Public Library.


flickr.com (Willem van Bergen)

The Seattle Public Library.



The old Steele Memorial Library in Elmira, NY, a Carnegie library from the 1890′s. The library has moved to a newer building, but the old building still stands.


The Municipal Library and in Alencon, France. The seventeenth-century building originally served as the Old Church of St. Joseph of the Jesuit College. The roof to the Imperial has a bell in the eighteenth century for astronomy courses. The carved oak cabinets of the eighteenth century from the Abbey of Val Dieu contain rare editions dating back to the sixteenth century and medieval manuscripts. It serves as a library and museum now.


wikipedia.org (Thanks to Johan in Uppsala, Sweden for the suggestion)

The interior of the Rotunda at the Stockholm Public Library in Sweden. It was built in 1924, designed by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund. It was Sweden's first public library to apply the principle of open shelves where visitors could access books without the need to ask library staff for assistance, and includes more than 2 million volumes and 2.4 million audio tapes, CDs and audio books.


flickr.com (TomTullis) (Thank you Rob N. for the suggestion)

The interior stacks at the Ames Free Library in Easton, Massachusetts. The building was constructed in the late 1870s, designed by noted architect H. H. Richardson and named after prominent Congressman Oaks Ames (1804-1873).