Jacksonville Public Library

The Jacksonville Public Library is the public library system of Jacksonville, Florida. It primarily serves Jacksonville and Duval County, and is also used by the neighboring Baker, Nassau, Clay, and St. Johns Counties. It is one of the largest library systems in Florida, with a collection of over three million items. A division of the city government, the library has the third largest group of city employees after the city's Fire Department and Sheriff's Office. There are twenty branches and a Main Library in the system.

Jacksonville Public Library
Jacksonville Public Library logo.png
Jax FL Main Library03.jpg
Start here. Go anywhere.
LocationJacksonville, Florida
Coordinates30°19′45″N 81°39′29″W / 30.329055°N 81.657958°W / 30.329055; -81.657958
Size2,354,787 (2015) [1]
Access and use
Circulation5.1 million[2]
Population served813,518
Members580,904 (2012–13) [1]
Other information
Budget$32,701,674 (FY2017)[2]
DirectorTim Rogers


Main LibraryEdit

Located downtown near City Hall and Hemming Plaza, the Main Library opened in November 2005, replacing the Haydon Burns Library.[3] Designed by the firm of the 2011 Driehaus Prize winner, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the new library is almost three times the size of the Haydon Burns building. The North Laura facility is 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) with the capacity to hold one million books. A 600-space parking garage across from the library building on Duval Street makes the Main Library easily accessible. State-of-the-art technology offers 250 public computers, satellite, and video conferencing capabilities with infrastructure to support future technologies. On April 18, 2012, the AIA Florida Chapter placed the Jacksonville Public Library – Main Library on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places.[4]

In addition to the Library and the Conference Center, the Library building hosts a bookstore and a cafe. The BOOKtique bookstore, run by the Friends of the Library, opened concurrently with the Library.[5] In 2013, the BOOKtique was closed to make way for The Lounge @ 303 North.[6] After a year and a half of legal wrangling and construction, on May 14, 2007, Shelby's Café opened inside the concession space in the Main Library.[7] Unfortunately, the concession stand closed in 2011.[8]

Regional libraries[9]Edit

  • Highlands – Dunn Avenue, serving the Northside.
  • Pablo Creek – Beach Blvd between Hodges and Kernan serving the Southside.
  • Southeast – Deerwood Park Blvd serving the Southside.
  • Charles D. Webb Wesconnett – 103rd Street serving the Westside.

Community and neighborhood branchesEdit

  • Argyle – Near the Argyle Forest subdivision serving the Westside.
  • Beaches – A1A (3rd Street) in Neptune Beach.
  • Bradham*Brooks Northwest – Edgewood Avenue serving the Northside.
  • Brentwood – Pearl St serving the urban core.
  • Dallas A. James Graham – Myrtle Avenue serving the urban core.
  • Mandarin – Kori Road serving the Mandarin area.
  • Maxville – Maxville Blvd (near Normandy Boulevard and Highway 301) serving the Maxville area.
  • Murray Hill – Edgewood Avenue South serving the urban core.
  • Raiford A. Brown Eastside – Harrison St serving the urban core.
  • Regency Square – Regency Square Blvd serving the Arlington/Regency area.
  • San Marco – The San Marco Branch on LaSalle Street serves the San Marco neighborhood
  • South Mandarin – San Jose Blvd near the St. John's County border.
  • University Park – University Blvd North serving the Arlington area including Jacksonville University.
  • West – Chaffee Road serving the Westside.
  • Westbrook – Commonwealth Avenue serving the urban core.
  • Willowbranch – Park St serving the Riverside and Avondale areas.


Jacksonville was the first library in Florida to offer a mobile library service, established in 1928.[10] For over 75 years, the Jacksonville Public Library continued this service of providing accessible materials to rural residents and areas where a branch had not been established. However, due to funding cuts, the bookmobile was discontinued as of October 2005.[11]

After the discontinuation of the bookmobile service, the library looked for ways to continue servicing the area where the mobile branch had been primarily operating. In 2012, the library opened the Oceanway Express location to provide limited service to customers who have no geographically-close library branch. The pickup/drop-off service is located near the Oceanway Community Center in northwest Jacksonville.[12]

Funding and administrationEdit

As a branch of the city government, the system is funded by local taxes. The system also receives aid supplemental funds from various grants.

The Jacksonville Public Library is one of the few departments of the City Government to be administered by an independent board. The eleven members of the Library Board of Trustees are appointed by the Mayor of Jacksonville and approved by the City Council. Board members serve for four years, and may serve a second consecutive term if reappointed. The Library Board approves library policies, submits an annual budget request, oversees the operation of the system and hires the library director.[13]

Barbara A.B. Gubbin served as director from 2005 to June 30, 2017. She is succeeded by Tim Rogers who began serving as director on January 29, 2018.[14]

Borrowing policiesEdit

Patrons of the Jacksonville Public Library may borrow books, most magazines, 'zines', videos (VHS or DVD) and audio materials. Patrons may check out 100 items at a time, 10 of these being DVDs. Most items, except for express books and DVDs (7-day checkout) are a three-week checkout period.[15] Overdue materials collect fines, except on days on which the library is closed. Fees totaling $10 or more will result in a block to the user's account. A fine balance of $9.99 or less is considered a library account in good standing. All materials borrowed from the library can be returned to any branch, regardless of where they were borrowed. Patrons can place up to 50 holds on library materials. These materials will be held for patrons for 7 days after the patron is notified of their availability.

Jacksonville Public Library cards are free for residents of Duval County, including Baldwin and the Beaches communities, and non-residents employed by a city/county agency or who own businesses or property in the county. Other non-residents may apply for a card, at $25 for three months, $50 for six months, or $100 for one year. Hardship waivers are available upon request. Lost cards may be replaced by paying a small, $2 fee. Children under the age of 18 can apply for a card with parental permission. Parents are responsible for all items checked out on the child's card.

A partnership between Jacksonville Public Library and Duval County Public Schools allows all Duval County Public School students (K-12) a library privilege known as a "Student Card." No physical card is issued for this privilege; the student uses his or her school ID card to check out up to 3 books (print or audio) and use the library computers. No fines or fees or assessed with use of the Student Card.[16]


Carnegie Library, Jacksonville, FL (2010)

The Jacksonville Public Library had its beginnings with two ladies: Misses May Moore and Florence Murphy. These two women started the Jacksonville Library and Literary Association in 1878, which was populated by various prominent Jacksonville residents and which sought to create a free public library and reading room for the city.

Moore and Murphy's Association succeeded in establishing their free public reading room, Jacksonville's first, in the winter of 1878–1879. It was located in the Astor Building, on the corner of Bay and Hogan, and was manned by librarian James Douglas. Here visitors could find books, papers and periodicals.

In 1883, the Jacksonville Library and Literary Association was reorganized and renamed the Jacksonville Library Association. The new Association built Jacksonville's first public library building, described as "a neat one-story frame building having a steep roof and a small entrance porch in front facing Adams Street."

This building was replaced in 1894 by a new building that the Association shared with the Board of Trade and the Elks Club. This building, on the northeast corner of Main and Adams, housed Jacksonville's public library until 1901, when the May 3 fire destroyed it.

Carnegie LibraryEdit

Old Jacksonville Free Public Library
Postcard featuring the Carnegie Library, ca. 1910.
Location101 East Adams Street, Jacksonville
Coordinates30°19′39″N 81°39′22″W / 30.32762°N 81.65602°W / 30.32762; -81.65602Coordinates: 30°19′39″N 81°39′22″W / 30.32762°N 81.65602°W / 30.32762; -81.65602
ArchitectHenry John Klutho
Architectural styleClassical Revival
NRHP reference No.86003679[17]
Added to NRHPJanuary 22, 1987[17]

Help for rebuilding came in 1902 in the form of Andrew Carnegie, who offered $50,000 for a new library, provided that the city had a building site and appropriated at least $5,000 a year for library support.[18] Between 1883 and 1929, Carnegie funded 2,509 libraries in the United States and Europe.

Carnegie believed cultural organizations, such as libraries, helped raise up the working class. Carnegie never provided total funding for any project; he believed local authorities should make their own effort and demonstrate the self-determination to which he attributed his own spectacular success. The strings attached to the Carnegie gift were that the community provide the site, and that the elected officials—the local government—promise to pay to staff and maintain the library, guaranteeing to spend annually at least 10 percent of the amount of the original Carnegie gift. The community was required to draw from public funds to run the library—not use only private donations. Carnegie wanted these libraries to be part of the fabric of public life and the responsibility of the community. Only those determined to sustain them and make them grow would receive a Carnegie gift.[19]

Jacksonville agreed, and the city council put the issue to local voters in 1902, and it narrowly passed 640 to 627. In January 1903 the city passed an ordinance establishing a free public library and the city council appointed a public library board of nine men, led by Duncan Fletcher.[20] The building was designed by New York City architect Henry John Klutho.[18] Klutho rebuilt Jacksonville after the Great Fire of 1901.[21] Klutho's style of architecture is known as the Prairie School. Although Klutho's work was influenced by that of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis H. Sullivan, it was his own.[22]

On October 3, 1903, ground was broken for the Carnegie library on the northeast corner of Adams and Ocean. Two years later, on June 1, 1905, the library was formally opened with George Burwell Utley as librarian and with 8,685 books available. Known officially as the Jacksonville Free Public Library, it was the beginning of the Jacksonville Public Library. It was also the first tax-supported library in Florida. On January 22, 1987, it was added to the US National Register of Historic Places.[23]

The library was two stories tall, made of limestone and copper. Its design was Classic Revival Greek Ionic, typical of Carnegie libraries, and featured four columns on the facade. Many Carnegie libraries were built in this Neoclassical style with imposing pillars and a tidy lawn, conveying reverence for the printed word.[24] It has been described as nearly fireproof, with wood only in the floors, doors and sash. By 1910, the library was outgrowing itself. The library made use of deposit stations and sub branches, but space in the Carnegie building became an increasingly rare commodity. Thus, in the 1920s a branch system was inaugurated which continues to flourish to this day.[25] Today the Carnegie library building houses a law firm and it is known as the Bedell Building.[26]

Growth and expansionEdit

In 1907 George Utley said that the library was "fast becoming securely established as a part of the municipal fabric, and is considered more and more a necessity and less and less a luxury by the citizens of Jacksonville.

By 1910 the library was outgrowing itself. The library made use of deposit stations and sub branches, but space in the Carnegie building became an increasingly rare commodity. Thus, in the 1920s a branch system was created.

The first branch, the Wilder Park Library, opened November 14, 1927, on the corner of Lee and Third street for service to the African American community. This was followed by a bookmobile service on October 30, 1928. Branches continue to be opened, renovated and modernized, resulting in the current library system of a Main Library and 20 additional branches. The original branch library was replaced on June 22, 1965 with the Graham Branch Library. The first large regional library was the Regency Square branch, which opened in 1973. Six new regional branches were built throughout the city in the 1970s – 1990s. In 1999 the original regional branch, Regency Square, reopened after undergoing a two-year renovation.

Recession and revivalEdit

Haydon Burns Library (1965–2005), ca. 1968.

In the 1950s public interest in the libraries faded, along with adequate budget support. Lack of funding led to low book stocks, poorly trained staff and poorly maintained buildings. As Librarian Joseph F. Marron stated in an annual report, "Impending institutional bankruptcy was a phrase being applied to this first tax-supported public library in the state of Florida."

However, when the city commission and city council approved a 19 percent increase in the libraries' operational budget for 1957, the Jacksonville Public Libraries began to revive. The Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library, formed in 1956 with the intent of inspiring interest in libraries, are credited as a major influence in bringing about the increased budget.

In March 1960, the city approved a location for the new Main Library, the site of old City Hall, along with 60 additional feet of property previously occupied by the Windle Hotel. In March 1964, ground was broken at 122 North Ocean Street. On November 28, 1965, the new building was dedicated, and the next day opened to the public.

The Main Library was named after Haydon Burns, mayor of Jacksonville for 15 years as well as governor of Florida.[18] The structure was designed to be both aesthetic and useful. The library featured bright green tile and concrete fins on the exterior. As one newspaper reporter said of the library, "the ultramodern showplace is a symphony of color, texture and functional design."[18]

After nearly 30 years of operation, the Haydon Burns building was showing its age. Due to space and wiring limitations, the building was inadequate for the needs of the growing Jacksonville community. In September 2000, the citizens of Jacksonville voted for the Better Jacksonville Plan, which provided funding for a new Main Library building, six new regional branch libraries and improvements at most existing branches. After closing, the city was preparing to sell the former library to the Atkins Group for $5 million. The Atkins Group planned to tear down the library to build high-rise condominiums. This was met with a backlash, as preservationists and citizens wanted to save the unique 1960s piece of architecture.[27] In 2008, the Haydon Burns Library was designated as a historical landmark. As of 2015, the building houses the Jessie Ball duPont Center and still has its famous green tile and concrete fins.[28]

21st centuryEdit

Jacksonville Main Library – Downtown

After suffering delays due to the 2004 hurricane season and contractors' difficulties, the system prepared for the opening of a new Main Library in late 2005.[29] In September 2005, the Haydon Burns library closed its doors for the last time to allow staff to move to the new Main Library due to open later that year.[30] Accompanied by a week-long promotion and a full day of parades and other events, on November 12, 2005, the new Main Library opened to the public.[31][32] The opening was a historic event for the library system and the City of Jacksonville, marking the completion of an unprecedented period of growth under the Better Jacksonville Plan. It adds to the city's architectural and cultural landscape and provides a gathering place downtown for the community. The new Main Library offers specialized reading rooms, public access to hundreds of computers and extensive collection of books and other materials.

Collection and servicesEdit

The current collection is more than three million books, audiobooks, compact discs, videos, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, and other items. Reference materials provide resources for the educational, recreational, and professional needs of the community.

There are many services and programs for children, teenagers, and adults. In the most recent fiscal year (FY 2015), the Jacksonville Public Library had 3.4 million library visitors with 177,977 program attendees.[1] The Main Library houses a number of special collections including the Delius Collection, Genealogy Collection, Florida Collection, partial Federal Government Documents depository library, and Foundation Center (Grants Resource Center). The opening of the new Main library in 2005 made two new special collections available — the African American Collection and the Ansbacher Map Collection.[33] The official dedication of the African-American collection occurred in August 2006.[34]

Circulation of library materials in the most recent fiscal year (FY 2015) was 5.9 million.[1]

Children's programs are very popular and regularly scheduled programs include arts and crafts, preschool, school age and family story times, and special programs held during the summer reading program.

Other community service activities include the Center for Adult Learning located in the Main Library, which is a program to promote adult literacy. Talking Books for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides audiotapes to the disabled in the community through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The library also participates in the Mayor's Literacy Initiative—Rally Jacksonville. Some other services are Books By Mail, Interlibrary Loan, Computer Classes, WiFi, and English as a Second Language classes for customers in Duval County.[33][35]


The website of the Jacksonville Public Library began in 1993 with the availability of the JAXCAT online public catalog. Over the years additional features have been added, such as customers ability to log in to access their account information, place holds and renew materials checked out to their account. Online subscription databases are accessible via the website, including magazine and newspaper article databases, and business, health and literature resources. In 2013, the Jacksonville Public Library released a new online library catalog. The new catalog is paired with Amazon with a "Buy it Now" feature. Patrons that buy items through the new catalog via Amazon will help the library system earn more materials for their collection.[36]


The Jacksonville Public Library currently runs a blog titled "ilovejpl.org". The blog states "With our blog stories, we hope to connect you with the staff and customers of our living-breathing-changing library. We’ll do our best to take you behind the scenes of the oldest information source in town and show you just how lively this centenarian really is!". The blog includes posts concerning the community, new books, library happenings, and resources available to library patrons. One feature of the blog is the Find Your Next Read section. Different lists of popular books are provided, as well as the option to have newsletters concerning popular new reads delivered through email, courtesy of NextReads. The blog is an example of the library's dedication to keeping up-to-date and providing its patrons a variety of different resources.


  1. ^ a b c d "About – Jacksonville Public Library".
  2. ^ a b "Jacksonville Public Library Annual Report 2017" Jax Public Library website
  3. ^ "Long overdue library features marble, majesty – a map room". Jacksonville Business Journal.
  4. ^ "Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places". aiaflatop100.org.
  5. ^ "Booktique: Not your ordinary bookstore". Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  6. ^ http://www.jaxpubliclibrary.org/sites/default/files/Brochure.pdf (page 4)
  7. ^ "Cut the ribbon and brew a pot of Joe". jaxdailyrecord.com.
  8. ^ Jason. "Shelby's Coffee Shop". Zomato.
  9. ^ "Locations & Hours | Jacksonville Public Library". www.jaxpubliclibrary.org. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  10. ^ The Times-Union. "Bookmobile brings library's resources to neighborhoods - Jacksonville.com". jacksonville.com.
  11. ^ "Library may get digital audio books". jaxdailyrecord.com.
  12. ^ "Cheers: Lockers a neat idea for Jacksonville-area libraries". September 28, 2012. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
  13. ^ MARY KELLI PALKA. "A new appointment could help bridge library panels' gap - Jacksonville.com". jacksonville.com.
  14. ^ https://www.jaxpubliclibrary.org/news/library-board-selects-new-director-jacksonville-public-library-dec-14-2017
  15. ^ "Get a Library Card – Jacksonville Public Library".
  16. ^ "Get a Library Card | Jacksonville Public Library". www.jaxpubliclibrary.org. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  17. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  18. ^ a b c d JOHN CARTER. "Remembering the city's first 2 libraries - Jacksonville.com". jacksonville.com.
  19. ^ Murray, Stuart A.P.The Library An Illustrated History. New York: NY, Skyhorse Publishing, 2009.
  20. ^ Changing Face of Jacksonville, Florida: 1900–1910. James B. Crooks. The Florida Historical Quarterly,Vol. 62, No. 4 (Apr. 1984), pp.439–463
  21. ^ https://thecoastal.com/flashback/henry-j-klutho-the-architect-who-almost-single-handedly-redesigned-downtown-jacksonville/ "Henry J. Klutho, the Architect Who Almost Single-Handedly Redesigned Downtown Jacksonville"
  22. ^ "AFTER THE FIRE…". cowart.info.
  23. ^ National Register of Historic Places in Duval County
  24. ^ Lyons, Martyn. Books A Living History. Los Angeles, CA: Getty Publications, 2011.
  25. ^ http://www.jaxpubliclibrary.org/about "History of JPL"
  26. ^ https://thecoastal.com/flashback/jax-evolved/jax-evolved-carnegie-bedell-building/ "JAX EVOLVED: Carnegie-Bedell Building"
  27. ^ DECAMP, DAVID. "Haydon Burns library closes to make way for new building | Jacksonville.com". jacksonville.com.
  28. ^ "BUILDING REBIRTH: Haydon Burns Library becomes the Jessie Ball duPont Center". jacksonville.com.
  29. ^ The Times-Union. "LIBRARY: Painfully slow - Jacksonville.com". jacksonville.com.
  30. ^ DAVID DECAMP. "Haydon Burns library closes to make way for new building - Jacksonville.com". jacksonville.com.
  31. ^ "Parties, activities to mark new library opening". Archived from the original on February 11, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  32. ^ "Weeklong bash for new library opening". jaxdailyrecord.com.
  33. ^ a b "JPL Annual Report 05-06" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 12, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
  34. ^ Cherie Black. "African-American history on display". jacksonville.com.
  35. ^ "Center for Adult Learning". Jacksonville Public Library.
  36. ^ "Support the Library – Jacksonville Public Library".

External linksEdit