Memphis Public Library

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The central branch: Benjamin L Hooks Central Library

The Memphis Public Library (est. 1888) is a public library serving Shelby County, Tennessee.

The library has 800,000 items in its holdings,[1] and has 18 branches scattered throughout the city of Memphis and surrounding areas.[2]

The library also operates a radio station, WYPL.

Prior to the construction of Central, the Cossitt and Main locations, at one time or another, served as the hub of the Memphis Public Library System. Cossitt began its existence in 1888 as the Cossitt-Goodwyn Institute, the first public library in the fledgling City of Memphis. On April 23, 1893, at 33 S. Front Street, an original sandstone structure was constructed on the Downtown Memphis Promenade and the Cossitt Library began service. At that time, and for nearly 62 years, Cossitt was the headquarters for Library administration. Named for its founder Frederick Cossitt, and updated in 1959, Cossitt still serves as one of 18 library branches and remains at the same location in the bustling Downtown community.

In 1955, the Main Branch Library opened at 1850 Peabody. Upon opening, the 147,000 square foot building became the main offices for the system. Main was replaced in 2001 by the Central Library at 3030 Poplar Avenue.

The Central Library opened its doors to the public on November 10, 2001. This 330,000 foot facility is located within the Midtown Corridor East (Binghampton/Chickasaw Gardens) Area and boundaries at 3030 Poplar Avenue. A collection of 800,000 books, magazines, videos, CDs, and other materials, 204 computer stations for use by the public, wireless Internet access, study rooms, and 3 meeting rooms with a maximum capacity of 350, are beautifully housed in the five-story building. Programming for all ages includes Toddler and Preschool Storytimes and special programs for children, teens, and adults, as well as Computer Training classes for the public.

Below is brief chronology of one of Memphis’ prominent landmarks and handsome public buildings.

April 23 Cossitt and Library System Founding

Bookmobile Started Service

Summer Vance Branch Opens (Now Cornelia Crenshaw)

January 15 Highland Branch Opens

June 23 Whitehaven Branch Organized

April 3 Main Library at 1850 Peabody Opens
June 31 Millington Branch Opens

First Collierville Location
Cordova Library Opens at the Train Depot

January 6 Randolph Branch Opens

Whitehaven Branch Building Opens

Sit-ins held at Main and Cossitt

March 26 North Branch Opens
September 11 Frayser Branch Opens

August 9 Poplar-White Station Branch Opens

December 5 Collierville Branch Built

October 23 Parkway Village Opens
November 6 Raleigh Branch Opens

July 9 Arlington Branch Opens
July 17 Levi Branch Opens
September 10 Bartlett Branch Opens

March 17 South Branch Opens
Germantown Branch Opens

Friends of the Library Organized

Library Channel/TV 18

WTTL (West Tennessee Talking Library) Begins Airing as a Closed-circuit Radio Station

April 6 Cherokee Branch

April 13 Hollywood

January 2 Gaston Park Branch

New Bartlett Branch Opens at 6382 Stage Road

New Vance Branch Opens


WYPL FM 89.3 Begins Broadcast

Foundation for the Library Organized

Training Wheels Bus Begins Service

Vance Branch Renamed for Community, Resident Activist Cornelia Crenshaw

Groundbreaking held for Central Library

InfoBus Mobile Service Begins
February 15 East Shelby Opens

The 330,000 square foot Central Library opens to the public
The Collierville Library Opens a New Building as the Lucius E. Elise C. Burch, Jr.

The newly constructed Cordova Branch opens at 8457 Trinity Road
The newly constructed Whitehaven Branch opens 4120 Mill Branch
Collierville & Germantown Branches Cede from the Memphis Public Library & Information System

A renovated Randolph Branch reopens
Arlington & Millington Branches Cede from the Memphis Public Library & Information System
WYPL-89.3 FM celebrates 25 years of service to the community
A renovated Hollywood Branch reopens to the public
Memphis City Council officially names Central the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library

Memphis Public Library's Health Information Center is recognized as Best in State and among top ten in the country
SIRSI Dynix recognizes Memphis Public Library & Information Center for "Building Better Communities"

Library web site celebrates 10 years of service
Memphis Public Library & Information Center featured in new book "Heart of the Community: Libraries we Love"
Urban Libraries Council/The Urban Institute Report: Making Cities Stronger uses Memphis Public Library as a model for employment outreach and early literacy training
Groundbreaking is held for a new Bartlett Branch Library

The Bartlett Public Library opened to the public April 7th.
Address: 5884 Stage Road, Bartlett, TN 38134
The new facility is located at the Bartlett Municipal Center and is a combination of new construction and renovation of the existing building.


  1. ^ "About the Library". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  2. ^ "Map of Library Locations". 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 

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