Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System

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The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System is the public library system serving greater Albuquerque, New Mexico. It includes sixteen branch libraries as well as the downtown Main Library.


The Albuquerque Public Library opened on May 1, 1901, replacing the Ladies' Library Association which had operated sporadically since 1883. The new library was located in Perkins Hall, a three-story brick building at the intersection of Central and Edith which had previously housed the first Albuquerque Academy and the University of New Mexico. The building was purchased and donated to the city by local businessman Joshua Raynolds for the purpose of establishing a public library. The library opened with 2,382 books, many of which were donated by local businesspeople.[1]

By 1920 the library had outgrown its old facility, and planning began for a new building on the same site. Perkins hall was torn down, and the new library opened on March 26, 1925. Designed by Arthur Rossiter, the building was a fine example of Pueblo Revival architecture with its buttresses, towers, irregular parapet, and exposed wooden beams. Interior decorations were by Santa Fe artist Gustav Baumann.[2]

The Main Library was enlarged in 1947 and 1951. In 1948 the city purchased the former home of war correspondent Ernie Pyle and turned it into Albuquerque's first branch library. The old Main Library became the Special Collections branch in 1978 after a new facility was built downtown.

Main Library[edit]

The Main Library

The current Main Library, opened in 1975, is located at the intersection of Fifth and Copper in downtown Albuquerque. It was designed by local architect George Pearl, whose striking modern interpretation of traditional southwest architecture received a design award from the American Institute of Architects. Pearl considered it one of his "three or four most important" designs.[3] The library received a $1.8 million renovation in 2006 which included the addition of a new glass atrium and lobby, a coffee shop, and an expansion of the used book shop on the lower level. The space that was developed for a coffee shop in 2006, the ABQ Coffee Connection, officially opened on May 3, 2010. In 2013, the restaurant Al's Other Half replaced the former coffee shop.

Controversy involving the Main Library arose in 1999 when the city decided to have a group of high school students paint a mural on the east side of the building. This sparked public outcry at the possibility that the architecturally significant building would be damaged, with some of the most vocal opposition coming from Pearl himself.[3] Eventually a compromise was reached which involved painting the mural on removable panels. The artwork was later removed in 2005 as part of the ongoing renovations.


Old Main Library,
now the Special Collections Library
  • Alamosa/Robert L. Murphy Library (opened September 24, 2001)[4]
  • Central & Unser - Patrick J. Baca Library (opened April 18, 2015) [5]
  • Cherry Hills Library (opened June 24, 1998)[6]
  • East Mountain Library, Tijeras
  • Erna Fergusson Library (opened 1966, current library built in 2003)[7]
  • Ernie Pyle Library (opened 1948)
  • Juan Tabo Library
  • Lomas Tramway Library
  • Los Griegos Library
  • North Valley Library
  • San Pedro Library
  • South Broadway Library (opened 1994)
  • South Valley Library
  • Special Collections Library (opened 1925, Special Collections since 1978)
  • Taylor Ranch Library
  • Tony Hillerman Library (formerly the Wyoming Library, opened 1957)
  • Westgate Library (opened March 21, 1998)[8]

Former branches[edit]

  • Esperanza Library (replaced by Alamosa Library in 2001)
  • Esther Bone Library, Rio Rancho (now part of the Rio Rancho system)


  1. ^ Steinberg, David (April 29, 2001). "Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System celebrates centennial with novel ideas". Albuquerque Journal. NM. 
  2. ^ "Old Main Library". City of Albuquerque Planning Department. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Steinberg, David (June 18, 1999). "Library mural plan ridiculed". Albuquerque Journal. NM. p. A1. 
  4. ^ Ludwick, Jim (September 25, 2001). "Brand-New Alamosa Center Opens Doors". Albuquerque Journal. NM. 
  5. ^ Briseño, Elaine (April 11, 2015). "New library on West Side opens in 1 week". Albuquerque Journal. NM. 
  6. ^ Chunn, Sherri (June 28, 1998). "Ready to read". Albuquerque Journal. NM. 
  7. ^ Steinberg, David (November 23, 2003). "A new chapter". Albuquerque Journal. NM. 
  8. ^ Casey, Juliet V. (March 21, 1998). "Library with child care center called a city first". Albuquerque Journal. NM. 

External links[edit]