What city has the finest library system?

One of my regrets in leaving Columbus, Ohio was the outstanding library system they had. For a city of Columbus’ size, the library was outstanding.

The public libraries I have seen in the Dallas area are not up to the standard of the better libraries in the United States.

What city has the best public library system in the United States? County library systems are also acceptable in this poll. I’d also be interested in public lending libraries outside the United States.

New York City has three out of the twenty largest library systems in the United States all in one place. If they were to combine them, it would be among the largest library systems in the world.

The Ann Arbor District Library is a public library system with branches located within the area. It benefits from the renowed University of Michigan library system and I think they have a loan program with them. The downtown library has three floors. On the third floor there is a wall displaying all kinds of accolades. There are certificates and awards from the Governor, the United States Congress, and the Library of Congress. The downtown Ann Arbor library was the national library of the year.

I will say this about the Ann Arbor system: it is well supported by the community. A millage (temporary tax counted in mills (thousandths of a cent) instituted for the purpose of fundraising) for the library has never been voted down to my knowledge.

However, having grown up in the NYC system, right around the corner from the Main Branch of the Brooklyn Public library, it rocks my socks. For one, the system is essentially never closed – some of the libraries are open every day of the week and during holidays. There’s a 4 or 5 story library dedicated exclusively to periodicals. There are several “research libraries” where you can’t remove the materials… ergo, every item is always “in.”

St. Pete Florida had a nice system. Most of the libraries I visited in St. Pete were well staffed and very well managed. There was always a good number of people at the libraries and they all had closed off areas for the kids (sound proof). Very nice indeed.

Well, it’s not a city one…

But Washington DC does have that whole ‘Library of Congress’ thing that’s kicks some major ass.

I know I’ve mentioned it here before, but the Cleveland Library System is one of the best in the country.

It’s the third largest public research library system in the US.

It has the White collection, the largest collection of books on chess in the world.

It was the first library in the country to offer e-books. It was one of the first in the country to put its entire catalog online, and has one of the largest collections of online databases available anywhere.

It was the first library in the country to offer “KnowItNow”, a service that has a librarian to answer questions anytime, 24/7.

It is part of a system called the ClevNet Library Consortium, that ties together 31 library systems in 9 counties in Northern Ohio.

It also cooperates with the other major library network in the area, the Cuyahoga county library system – one card called the “Greater Access” card works in both systems.

Ohio has some of the best funding for libraries in the country, not only are they supported by local property taxes, but also by the state income tax.

It’s pretty rare that I can’t find a book that I’m looking for there, but if I can’t, they have a really good InterLibrary loan program.

Alexandria? Ok, so its a bit past its prime…


I have never had any problems with the Harris County (Houston) library system. They have a solid website, good availablility, and helpful staff.

They really have everything I need.

I’ve used the NY Pulic Library, and it can be a real pain. But I’ve never had a problem with the Boston Public Library, which has a truly huge and awesome collection. (My complaint is that there’s only one bathroom, which is usually inhabited by homeless folks, and it stinks.)
Salt Lake City doesn’t have a large library, but it’s clean and has great bathrooms. And they have an awesome collection of Fredric Brown novels.

It ain’t Philadelphia. :frowning:

I’m on the verge of moving from here in another week and my only regret is-- the only thing I’ll miss I can’t match in Atlanta – is the library system. This is the only place I’ve ever lived where essentially any graphic novel or trade paperback worth owning I could think of could be found here. The cartoon research library at OSU is another thing I’ll miss. My name has been on the waiting list for The Half-Blood Prince the last two years – all I have to do is be at the library the day its available and pick up my waiting copy. Unfortunately I’ll have moved by then!

I’ll second Cleveland’s library system. It absolutely rocks!

The public library in Berkeley, California has a whole branch devoted to lending hand and power tools, which is fairly unusual (and useful).

I love the Hawaii State Public Library System. The HSPLS is, as the name implies, one state-wide library system. You can even borrow books on one island and return them to another; the interlibrary loan system is similarly statewide.

I grew up with it and took it for granted (especially having worked for the library for ~4 years), but having lived in states where each county has its own separate (and exclusive) library system, I look back on the HSPLS as something bordering on utopian.

Reading backwards in the thread, it looks like Ohio is probably just as good, if not better, in the ILL/interconnected library category…

Well, you don’t need heavy coats to walk to HI’s libraries in the winter. That’s gotta count for something, right? :wink: