Quick Facts About the Library

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Quick Facts About the Library

The Memphis Public Library & Information Center is in the business of satisfying the customer’s need to know.


Since 1893, the library has been serving our community with current, accurate information resources. The library system includes the Central Library, 18 branches and three mobile services: JobLINC (employment opportunities and information), Training Wheels (training to day care workers and library services for children), and InfoBUS (library services to immigrant and English as a Second Language customers). The library also has two broadcast facilities: WYPL TV 18, the local government access channel, offering a wide variety of community programming, and WYPL FM 89.3 offering information to the print-impaired, low literacy and visually challenged audience.

The library system serves the public in a variety of ways. With over 3.2 million visits each year, the library is the source for free access to information on virtually any topic. The information is available in books, magazines, newspapers, manuscripts, audio books, CDs, videos, DVDs, and online data bases and Internet resources. In addition, the library presents programs for all ages and broadcasts information via radio and television.

The Foundation for the Library was first chartered on January 25, 1995 with the mission of raising funds for the construction of the new Central Library. Its first chair was Dr. E. Charles Leonard, and over the course of its next few years surpassed its $20 million fundraising goal to ensure the building of the new Central Library. On November 14, 1998, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new 330,000 square foot building and approximately 3 years later on November 10, 2001, the doors swung open for the Library of the Future.


If knowledge is power, then the library is indeed a primary source of empowerment for all people regardless of age, economic circumstances or education level.

The Memphis Public Library & Information Center is key to a better quality of life. A good public library system not only enhances the environment for current residents and businesses, but also serves to attract new residents and companies. The library is both a gift and an opportunity for every individual to enrich his or her personal and professional lives. It is an institution of incalculable worth and return on investment.

Achieving our Vision and Mission

As lives and lifestyles change, people are constantly asking, “How do I …?” The library has the answer. It is always acquiring, refining and maintaining valuable information. It is the library’s goal to foster self-reliance by having the most accurate and reliable resources to answer customer questions.

Sample Statistics, FY 2005-2006
Library Visits 3,187,826
New Collection Items 120,322
Programs/Attendance 2,848/76,177 (1,909 were children’s programs with 60,063 attendance)
Technology 516 public computers/945,646sessions
4,808,808 visits to www.memphislibrary.org website

The Public/Private Partnership
The ability to maximize the availability of information requires a well-grounded public/private partnership. The public sector has long accepted its responsibility of providing an adequate and safe library environment for customers to access information. But there is a tremendous opportunity and challenge for individuals and businesses to enhance the library system. Private support leverages public sector support so the library can continue to provide quality resources on any topic. Supporting Organizations The Foundation for the Library is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization established in 1994 to actively pursue private funds to support the needs of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center. The Foundation’s first objective was to organize and conduct a capital campaign for the Central Library. A $20 million goal was established in mid-1997. The capital campaign concluded in April 2003, having raised $21.5 million. (See chart) The Friends of the Library is also a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose members support and enhance the goals and objectives of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center. Friends are a diverse group of volunteers who give their time and talents in book sales, the library's used book store and a variety of tasks throughout the library system.

Click for Graphic of Fund Raising

Foundation for the Library Significant Dates
June 16, 1994: First planning meeting of executive committee
November 1, 1995: First Technology Task Force Meeting
Nov. 8, 14, 29, Dec. 5, 1995: Public hearings for new library
July 24, 1997: Campaign Leadership news conference - $1 million from Friends of the Library
November 14, 1998: Central Library Groundbreaking 1st Corporate Knowledge Bowl
November 6, 1999: Community Campaign kick-off "Foothold on the Future"
June 22, 23 2000: Topping Off Parties: Staff Preview; Invited Guests
May 12, 2001: InfoRun – Central to Main and back
November 10, 2001:  Grand Opening Ceremonies and Gala
March 2003:  Second Editions used book store opens
April 22, 2003: Campaign closed with $21.5 million