Nashville Public Library

Nashville Public Library
Nashville Public Library main branch.jpg
Main Library
CountryUnited States
TypePublic library
LocationNashville, Tennessee
Coordinates36°09′44″N 86°46′54″W / 36°09′44″N 86°46′54″W / 36.1621; -86.7817
BranchesMain Library, 20 Branches, Metropolitan Government Archives of Davidson County, Talking Library
Access and use
Population served1,500,000 (Davidson County)
Other information
Budget25,619,800 [1]
DirectorKent Oliver [2]
Staff366 [1]

Nashville Public Library is the public library serving Nashville, Tennessee and the metropolitan area of Davidson County. In 2010, the Nashville Public Library was the recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.[3] The library was named the Gale/Library Journal 2017 Library of the Year.[4]


A succession of public libraries, known by a variety of names, served the people of Nashville. The early libraries were generally small, offered a narrow range of services, and operated on a fee schedule. In 1897, the Tennessee General Assembly authorized cities of a certain size to establish and maintain free public libraries and reading rooms. With this authority, in 1901 the Howard Library became Nashville’s first free circulating library. Also in 1901, Andrew Carnegie offered to donate $100,000 for a new library building if the city would take care of its maintenance. The city accepted those terms, and in 1904, the Carnegie Library Building was completed on Polk Avenue. Andrew Carnegie enabled the building and opening of an additional three branches between 1912 and 1919. Two of those buildings are still in use today, the North Branch and the East Branch.

The Carnegie Library Building was razed and replaced with the Ben West Public Library in 1963. The Main Library was housed in the Ben West building for 38 years.[5]

The new Main Library Building, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, was opened in 2001.[6]

Previously on the site for the Main Library was a downtown shopping mall called Church Street Center.[7]

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