Public library

organized collection of books and information resources made accessible for the public

A public library is a library that is open for anyone to borrow books without having to pay. They are usually paid for by taxes.They are usually run by librarians. They may run free services like reading clubs and they have places for people to study. They may have reference collections - books that have to stay in the library and provide computers and Internet for the public.

The first known libraries were in the Fertile crescent 5000 years ago - with clay tablets, not books. .

Circulating libraries and subscription libraries came before public libraries, in the 18th and 19th centuries. In England in 1790, there were about six hundred rental and lending libraries, with about fifty thousand members. People had to pay to borrow the books.[1] The first community-run public library, the Malatestiana Library, started in 1447 in Cesena, Italy. Chetham's Library in Manchester, claims to be the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. It opened in 1653.[2] Biblioteca Palafoxiana in Puebla City, Mexico, is recognized by UNESCO as the first public library in the Americas. It was founded in 1646. People could not usually borrow the books from these early libraries.

In the United Kingdom parliament it was suggested that public libraries might draw people away from public houses. The Museums Act 1845 allowed boroughs to raise money for public museums and libraries. Warrington opened a Municipal Library in 1848. Most of the early public libraries were helped by donations from philanthropists. Andrew Carnegie paid for many public libraries across the English-speaking world.[3]


  1. "Survivor: The History of the Library". History magazine. October 2001. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  2. "Chetham's Library". Chetham's Library. Retrieved 2023-04-27.
  3. Jones, Theodore (1997). Carnegie Libraries across America. Washington: Preservation Press. ISBN 978-0-471-14422-9.