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Front entrance to the Cleveland Public Library's central location on Superior Avenue.
The Cleveland Public Library was founded in 1869 and is located in Clevelandmarker, Ohiomarker. Its mission is "to be the best urban library system in the country by providing access to the worldwide information that people and organizations need in a timely, convenient, and equitable manner." To that end, the Cleveland Public Library maintains its Main Library on Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland has 28 branches throughout the city as well as a mobile library, a Public Administration Library in City Hall, and a library for the blind and physically handicapped.

William Howard Brett, a librarian at the Cleveland Public Library, opened the library's first stand-alone children's room on February 22, 1898. He put Effie Louise Power in charge of it, making her the first children's librarian in the Cleveland Public Library System.

In 1915 the Cleveland architectural firm of Walker and Weeks won a competition to design a new library building. The actualizing of their classical Renaissance design was delayed during due to the First World War and construction was not begun until 1923.

Linda Anne Eastman (1867-1963) was the first woman to head a major US City Library system. She was the chief librarian when the main library wing was erected between 1923-25. Eastman was also pioneer in the modern library system. Her contribution was opening bookshelves to the patrons of the library rather than having a librarian get the patron the books. She had visited the New York Public Librarymarker where they treated books like art objects. She did not like this system and she incorporated the open patron access to the books into the main library branch when it was under construction. The Eastman Reading Garden at the Main Library is named in her honor.

The Main Library consists of two buildings, connected by an underground corridor that lies below a reading garden situated between the two. The main branch 1925 wing is five stories tall, but would technically be as tall as a 10-story building due to double height of the floors. The reading garden was designed by the Olin Partnership and includes sculptures by Maya Lin and Tom Otterness. The older of the two buildings was completed on May 6, 1925 and was renovated between 1997 to 1999. The renovations included the restoration of a large mural painted by Ora Coltman in 1934 for the Federal Arts Project. The Intermuseum Conservation Association was contracted to restore and reinstall the piece. The second building, named after former U.S. Congressman Louis Stokes, was dedicated in 1997.

The Main Library contains a number of special collections, including the Mears and Murdock baseball collections, the Cleveland Theater collection, the John G. White chess and checkers collection, a 130,000-volume children's collection, a 74,000-volume rare book collection, and collection of 1.3 million photographs. As of 2002, the Main Building had annual attendance of 804,692, annual circulation of 1,698,928 items, and a collection totaling 9,745,655 items. The Cleveland Public Library branches are members of CLEVNET, a consortium of 28 public libraries throughout northern Ohio. The Cleveland Public Library is also part of the United Nations Library network. The Cleveland Public Library in 1947 became a depository library for the UN documents for the entire state of Ohio. There are only 400 UN depository libraries worldwide.

In 2003, The Cleveland Public Library and the Cuyahoga County Public Library united to create the Greater Access Library Card. This card lets patrons of both systems to take out books without any problems. Example a Downtown Cleveland worker from Parma could takeout books to read at the main branch of Cleveland Public Library and they could takeout books out at the Parma Snow Branch without problems.

Main Library Departments

Main Building (built 1925)
  • 1st Floor: General Reference includes Microform Center, Periodicals, and Interlibrary Loan
  • 2nd Floor: Literature includes fiction, film, comics, and television
  • 3rd Floor: Fine Arts includes art, architecture, and music. This floor also houses Special Collections which includes the John G. White Collection of Folklore, Orientalia, and Chess, "the largest and most comprehensive chess library in the world."
  • 4th Floor: Youth Services and Foreign Literature
  • 5th Floor is book storage

Basement Walkway to Louis Stokes Wing

Louis Stokes Wing (added 1997)
  • Lower Level: Audio-Video includes DVDs and books on CD. The library's Auditorium is also on this level.
  • 1st Floor: Popular Library includes new books
  • 2nd Floor: Business, Economics, and Labor. The Computer Learning Connection where the public can take free computer classes is also on this floor.
  • 3rd Floor: Science and Technology
  • 4th Floor: Photograph Collection and Government Documents (a Federal depository library collection)
  • 5th Floor: Social Sciences includes religion, politics, education, and sports
  • 6th Floor: History and Geography also includes an extensive genealogy collection. The Map Collection is also on this floor. United Nations documents are deposited here too.
  • Floors 7-9 are book storage
  • 10th Floor: Library Administration

  • Cleveland Public Library has a public administration library located at Cleveland City Hall.

Cleveland Public Library Branches

The Cleveland Public Library has 28 neighborhood branches located throughout the city:
  • Addison Branch
  • Broadway Branch
  • Brooklyn Branch
  • Carnegie-West Branch
  • Collinwood Branch
  • East 131st Street Branch
  • Eastman Branch
  • Fleet Branch
  • Fulton Branch
  • Garden Valley Branch
  • Glenville Branch
  • Harvard-Lee Branch
  • Hough Branch
  • Jefferson Branch
  • Langston Hughes Branch
  • Lorain Branch
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch
  • Memorial-Nottingham Branch
  • Mount Pleasant Branch
  • Rice Branch
  • Rockport Branch
  • South Branch
  • South Brooklyn Branch
  • Sterling Branch
  • Union Branch
  • Walz Branch
  • West Park Branch
  • Woodland Branch

See also


  1. Cleveland Public Library Image Collections (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2009 from
  2. Cleveland Public Library, Dominance of the City. Accessed 2007-07-25.
  3. Cleveland Public Library, Special Collections. Accessed 2008-06-23.

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