Miami-Dade Public Library System

Coordinates: 25°46′29″N 80°11′47″W / 25.7746°N 80.1963°W / 25.7746; -80.1963
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Miami-Dade Public Library System
25°46′29″N 80°11′47″W / 25.7746°N 80.1963°W / 25.7746; -80.1963
LocationMiami-Dade County, Florida, United States
Branches50 + 2 bookmobiles + 1 technobus
Access and use
Access requirements1,084,841
Population served2,496,435
Other information

The Miami-Dade Public Library System (MDPLS) is a system of libraries in Miami-Dade County, Florida.


The Miami-Dade Public Library System is a county department within Miami-Dade county government. The Board of County Commissioners is the governing body over the library system.

The Library Advisory Board serves in an advisory capacity to the Board of County Commissioners on public library issues, providing reports, recommendations, and guidance to the government of Miami-Dade County.

Service area[edit]

The service area of the Miami-Dade Public Library System is defined by the Miami-Dade Library Taxing District. The district includes the majority of the geographical boundaries of Miami-Dade County, including most of its 35 municipalities and all of unincorporated Miami-Dade County.[1] The Miami-Dade Public Library System includes 50 libraries, two bookmobiles and one technobus. Along with its own branches, the Miami-Dade Public Library System also allows patrons of public libraries in the cities of Hialeah, Homestead, North Miami, and North Miami Beach to use MDPLS services.[2]


Early years[edit]

Public school library and Lemon City Library[edit]

Street view of Lemon City Branch Library circa 1955 - 412 NE 61st Street location

The Miami-Dade Public Library System can trace its roots to April 7, 1894 with the opening of a reading room in Lemon City.[3] One library was opened in the Lemon City public school, while in 1902, the Lemon City Library opened at 412 NE 61st Street.[4][5][6][7] The Lemon City Library Association was established on February 4. 1902. The occasion took place at the house of Mrs. Cornelia Keys and was attended by the Village Improvement Association, which was founded in 1896 by the city’s leading ladies, who were instrumental in the development of the Lemon City Library Association. The Lemon City Library like its counterpart in Cocoanut Grove also operated as a circulation or subscription library.[8]

Cocoanut Grove Library[edit]

On June 15, 1895, the Pine Needles Club opened the Cocoanut Grove Library.[9] Louise Whitfield Carnegie donated books to help the library after she visited Coconut Grove and attended a Pine Needles Club meeting.[10][11] In 1897, the library occupied a storeroom called the Exchange Library.[8] In the 1900s, Ralph Munroe, the commodore of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, donated land for the construction of a new library, with the condition that the grave of his wife Mrs. Eva Amelia Hewitt Munroe, who died in 1882 would be maintained on the site in perpetuity.[12] The library structure was donated by writer and conservationist Kirk Munroe.

On October 26, 1900, the Coconut Grove Library Association was incorporated.[13] By March 6, 1901 Miami-Dade County's first library building had been built in Cocoanut Grove and was occupied.[13] It remained in service until 1957, when it became part of the Miami Public Library.[14][15]

On November 16, 1963, a two-story library designed by local architect T. Triplett Russell opened and is a designated Florida Heritage Site.[16]

View of Miami Public Library Traveling Branch

Flagler Memorial Library[edit]

In 1913, Henry Morrison Flagler donated land for a Miami Women's Club clubhouse with the provision that it contain a public reading room. In 1915, the Miami City Commission began allocating $50 per month to support the club. The Flagler Memorial Library was established at 1737 North Bayshore Drive. By 1925, the communities of Coconut Grove and Lemon City had been annexed into the city of Miami.


On January 5, 1928, Miami's first bookmobile was pictured in the Miami Herald.[17] The first bookmobiles served rural areas of the city and county where access to library was nonexistent. In 1979, at the height of the program, about 20 bookmobiles were in service with about 293,000 items in circulation, but by 2001 two bookmobiles remained. Due to Covid-19, program has been relived and now the bookmobile makes weekly stops around parts of the city from Hialeah to Cutler Bay.[18] It makes scheduled stops each week at public parks, childcare facilities, condominium complexes, retirement communities, senior centers and recreational facilities where people might not have access to a brick and mortar library.[19] In 2022 the Miami-Dade Public Library System has two Bookmobiles and one Technobus. Along with books, DVDs, CDs and Audiobooks, Bookmobile patrons can now also borrow Chromebook laptops, tablets, and Wi-Fi hotspots. The Technobus offers computers on wheels where patrons can delve into digital photography, music production, graphic design, 3D printing, drone flying and virtual reality.[20]

The Dunbar Library[edit]

Street view of Dorsey Memorial Library

In 1936, Paul Laurence Dunbar Library opened in a building donated by Annie Coleman, president of the Friendship Garden and Civic Club, to serve citizens of Overtown.[21] In 1938, the facility was made part of Miami's library system and renamed the Dunbar Branch Library.[21] This was the first public library serving the Black community.[22]

On August 13, 1941, the Dorsey Memorial Library opened on land donated by Black philanthropist Dana A. Dorsey. It was the second library opened to serve the African American community in Overtown. It was also the first library built specifically to be a library, and the first library building owned by the city, serving the public until 1961. The Dorsey Memorial Library was then moved to a new larger facility and renamed the Dixie Park Branch Library.[23]


In 1942, there were 7 independent libraries. That year all of them merged into one system, the Miami Public Library System. In 1945 it officially became a department of the City of Miami governed by a board of trustees.[24]

In 1951 the Miami Memorial Library was constructed at Bayfront Park, it became the Miami Public Library's Main Library serving as the Department's central library until 1985.[24]

A subscription library in Coconut Grove became part of the system in April 1957. Eight branches were constructed in the next eight years. In December 1965, the city of Miami began providing public library service to unincorporated Dade County and municipalities that did not have a library service. Coral Gables, South Miami and the Miami Springs library were included in the system. Four bookmobiles provided library service to the unincorporated area.

In 1961, the Dorsey Library was abandoned for the Dixie Park Branch Library, which was renamed the Culmer/Overtown Branch Library in 1983.[23]

On November 1, 1971, the city of Miami transferred its library system to Metropolitan Dade County, which created a new department of libraries.[25]

Homestead's public library joined the county system on January 1, 1975. The Hispanic Branch, Rama Hispanica, opened August 2, 1976 in Little Havana.

On November 7, 1972, 14 new libraries were constructed when $34.7 million was authorized for land acquisition and the construction, renovation, equipment and furnishings of public libraries.

The Miami Beach Public Library and its two branches became part of the Miami-Dade Public Library System in October 1986. On January 15, 1992, the world's first library on an elevated transit system opened at the Metrorail rapid transit system in the Civic Center Station.[26][27]


The Doral Branch Library, the Country Walk Branch Library and the Hialeah Gardens library were opened in the early 2000s. In 2003, branches opened in Naranja, Tamiami and Lakes of the Meadow. In 2004, libraries opened in Concord and Palm Springs North. A regional library opened on Miami Beach in 2005, as did branches in Sunny Isles Beach and California Club.[28] The Opa-Locka, Sunset and Golden Glades branches opened in 2007, and branches at International Mall, Kendale Lakes and Virrick Park in Coconut Grove opened in 2008. Pinecrest opened in October 2008 and the Arcola Lakes Branch Library opened in 2011.

In 2012, the library system experienced a 30 percent cut in its budget, forcing the elimination of 153 part-time positions and a 25 percent reduction in full-time staff.[29]

The Miami-Dade Public Library System is a subregional library of the Florida Bureau of Braille and Talking Books Library.[30][31] In 2008, the Miami-Dade Public Library System was one of five U.S. library systems to win the National Medal for Museum and Library Service that was awarded on October 8 at the White House.[32]

In July 2014, a restructuring of the Miami-Dade tax schedule resulted in a $22 million increase in the county library budget.[33][34] In 2014, Miami-Dade County amended the county charter allowing Miami-Dade public libraries to be located in public parks.[35][36] The Northeast Branch Library in Aventura opened on August 17, 2015.[37] The library system's 50th branch location opened in the Town of Bay Harbor Islands in December 2016.

In 2017, the Miami-Dade Public Library was awarded Library Services and Technology Act grants to digitize its archives.[38]

The City of Homestead constructed a new library facility in Homestead and withdrew from the Miami-Dade Public Library System. The City and the County did enter into a reciprocal borrowing agreement.[39] The new facility name Cybranium offers virtual reality, 3D printing, children’s theater, and a brand new collection of library books among other services.[40] Despite the change, both cities continue to work together to encourage residents to take part in the library system.[41]

The Hialeah Gardens Branch Library opened on February 11, 2021.[42]

On May 10, 2021, the Tamiami Branch Library opened as part of Miami-Dade County's Gran Villa affordable housing complex.

Timeline of Events and Achievements of Miami-Dade Public Library System

The 70s

There have been a plethora of notable events and achievements that have taken place within the Miami-Dade Public Library System throughout the years. The Miami-Dade Public Library System was officially announced in 1971 by library director, Edward F. Sintz. Edward Sintz would serve as the director for the Miami-Dade public library system for the next 18 years.

The following year, 1972, was considered the kick start of the “decade of progress” for the library system. Voters approved a bond of $553 million initiative to building projects, branches and other beneficial constructions throughout the city.

In 1975 we saw the efforts of the 65 Plus Club which took on the challenges of getting books to elderly individuals. The solution to access of resources was to mail books to individuals instead of patrons having to come to the library to checkout, return or pick-up items.

1976, was the year that the Braille and Talking Books Library opened at the Little River branch

The 80s

Starting the decade off on a strong note, the Miami-Dade public library system became a United States Patent and Trademark Library. This initiative made patents and trademarks visible to the public.

At the end the decade, in 1988, the library system hit a huge milestone by going digital. The Miami-Dade public library system was one of the first libraries to offer a digital catalog to its patrons.

The 90s

A visit from First Lady Barbara Bush took place in 1990 at the Main library. First Lady Bush and Library Director Ronald Kozlowski unveiled a billboard promoting literacy.

In 1993, the community stepped up and helped during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. The South Miami-Dade library entertained kids with an art-mobile and reading story-times.

In 1994, the 113th annual ALA (American Library Association) took place at Miami Beach. Unfortunately, the attendance for this conference was low, possibly due to high heat and bad publicity.

1996 and 1997 were big years for digital innovation. In 1996, the Miami Dade public library system received a grant from the Gates Foundation to install more technology into the libraries throughout the library system. The following year, the website launched.

The 2000s

In 2002 the S.M.A.R.T (Science, Math, and Reading) tutoring program launched. This program helped the community by offering 1 on 1 homework help.

In 2017, Ray Baker was appointed the New Director of Libraries. The libraries also extended their hours during this time.

The COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 and changed the library system in huge ways. New ideas and perspectives on accessibility, health practices and employment services were launched.

Many things took place between the early 2000s to the late 2010s. Card redesigns, opening of new branches, hurricane restoration and anniversaries. The timeline included here is not an all inclusive list of the events that took place throughout the years. This timeline is merely a summarized version of events. A more detailed timeline can be found on the Miami-Dade public library system website.

Miami-Dade Public Library System Doral Branch

Friends of the Miami Dade Public Library[edit]

The Friends of the Miami Dade Public Library was incorporated in 1974 as a non-profit, volunteer organization to create support for the county library system.[43] The founding members included a number of historically significant South Floridians including Frank Brogan, Mae Knight Clark, Helen Dorsett, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Margaret Ewell, Douglas Fairbairn, Pamela Johnson, Helen Muir, William Muir and Ralph Renick.[44]


  1. ^ "About Us - Miami-Dade Public Library System".
  2. ^ MIami-Dade Public Library website (March 21, 2023). "MDPLS Locations" (PDF).
  3. ^ Hall-Castle, Ryan (2021-05-01). "A Brief History of Libraries in Miami-Dade County". ArcGIS StoryMaps. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  4. ^ Karantsalis, Theo (February 9, 2012). "Life Amid the Lemon Trees - One of Miami's Oldest Neighborhoods, Lemon City, Was Home to the County's First School Library, and Major Grocery Store". The Miami Herald.
  5. ^ Santiago, Fabiola (June 15, 1986). "Area's Oldest Library Writes a New Chapter in 92-Year History". The Miami Herald.
  6. ^ Smith, Stephen (June 12, 1986). "Lemon City Celebrates Its 'Oasis in the Desert'". The Miami Herald.
  7. ^ Peters, Thelma. Lemon City. Miami: Banyan Books, 1980. Pages 206-211.
  8. ^ a b Blazek, Ron. "Library in a Pioneer Community: Lemon City, Florida" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 20, 2021. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  9. ^ "History of The Miami-Dade Public Library System". Miami-Dade Public Library System Website. February 24, 2009. Retrieved Oct 22, 2016.
  10. ^ Muir, Helen. Miami, U.S.A.. New York: Henry Holt, 1953. Page 38.
  11. ^ Blackman, E. V. (Ethan V. ) (1921). "Miami and Dade county, Florida; its settlement, progress and achievement". The Internet Archive. Washington, D.C., V. Rainbolt. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Grave of Eva Amelia Hewitt Munroe" (PDF). City of Miami. October 6, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 13, 2016. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Blackman, E. V. (Ethan V. ) (1921). Miami and Dade county, Florida; its settlement, progress and achievement. The Library of Congress. Washington, D.C., V. Rainbolt.
  14. ^ Blackman, E. V. Miami and Dade County, Florida. Washington, DC: Victor Rainbolt, 1921. Page 75.
  15. ^ Minutes of the Coconut Grove Housekeepers Club. P. 28. 1892. Preserved on microfilm at Miami-Dade Public Library main branch.
  16. ^ "City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board Designation Report, The Coconut Grove Library" (PDF). July 7, 2009.
  17. ^ (1928, January 5). Miami Herald, p. 11.
  18. ^ "Bookmobiles". 11 November 2015.
  19. ^ Roll, David (2022-01-21). "Bookmobile Provides Miami Residents a Library Experience on Wheels". The Jitney. Retrieved 2022-04-29.
  20. ^ "Mobile Library - Miami-Dade Public Library System". Retrieved 2022-04-29.
  21. ^ a b "Dorsey Memorial Library: Designation Report" (PDF).
  22. ^ "Miami-Dade Public Library System". Digital Collections. Archived from the original on October 30, 2021. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  23. ^ a b "Dorsey Memorial Library" (PDF). City of Miami. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 27, 2021. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  24. ^ a b "Timeline of the Library System - Miami-Dade Public Library System". Retrieved 2022-04-29.
  25. ^ Metropolitan Dade County Resolution No. R-1551-71 approved the agreement with the City of Miami
  26. ^ "Civic Center Porta Kiosk Hours, Location, Events & Contact Info". Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  27. ^ "Branch Civic Center". - Miami-Dade Public Library System. Archived from the original on 12 May 2023. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  28. ^ Robert A. M. Stern (2005). "Miami Beach Regional Library". Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  29. ^ Kelley, Michael (January 1, 2012). "Library Journal". The New Normal: Annual Library Budgets Survey 2012.
  30. ^ "Talking Books Library & Braille". Miami-Dade Public Library System. Archived from the original on June 23, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  31. ^ "Overview". Florida Division of Blind Services. Archived from the original on July 20, 2014. Retrieved August 27, 2022.
  32. ^ "Miami-Dade Public Library System Miami Beach Regional Library". Retrieved 2018-03-09.
  33. ^ Mazzei, Patricia. "Miami-Dade Commission Vote for Slight Property-Tax Rate Hike to Help Libraries". Miami Herald Online. Miami Herald. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  34. ^ Hanks, Douglas. "Funds to Buy Children's Books Would Triple Under New Miami-Dade Library Budget". Miami Herald Online. Miami Herald. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  35. ^ Hanks, Douglas. "Miami-Dade voters to decide courthouse tax, FIU growth, park rules". Miami Herald Online. Miami Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  36. ^ "Dade - Election Results".
  37. ^ "Library". City of Aventura. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  38. ^ "Fiscal Year 2017-18 Funded LSTA Projects" (PDF). LSTA. Florida Department of State Division of Library and Information Services. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  39. ^ "Miami-Dade County Resolution No. R-307-20" (PDF). October 21, 2021.
  40. ^ "Homestead Cybrarium | About". Retrieved 2022-04-29.
  41. ^ "Homestead, FL". Homestead, FL. Retrieved 2022-04-29.
  42. ^ "Miami-Dade County Press Release, "Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jose "Pepe" Diaz and Hialeah Gardens Mayor Yioset De La Cruz to help celebrate the grand opening of the new Miami-Dade Public Library System Hialeah Gardens Branch"". February 9, 2021.
  43. ^ "About Us – Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library".
  44. ^ "Friends of the Miami-Dade Public Library website". October 21, 2021.

External links[edit]