The Jacksonville Public Library is a large library system, consisting of a 300,000 sq. ft. Main Library and twenty regional, community and neighborhood branch libraries. We also serve the needs of the community with Talking Books Library for Disabled Customers and an activeadult literacy program.
The system directly serves residents and employees of Duval County both within the Jacksonville city limits and the Beaches and Baldwin communities. Residents of neighboring Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns Counties are also able to partake of the services provided by JPL provided they meet the following criteria:
- A resident or property-owner in Duval County
- An employee of the City of Jacksonville, (Offices/Agencies of City Government)
- Currently attending a college located in Jacksonville, or
- Military personnel or family members of military personnel who reside in the state of Florida (must have valid military ID).
About the Library
Start Here. Go Anywhere!
To enrich lives, build community, and foster success by bringing people, information, and ideas together.
- Service: We are dedicated to making a positive difference in people’s lives.
- Teamwork: Life is better when we work together.
- Excellence: We settle for nothing less than the highest quality outcomes.
- Innovation: We prize creativity, flexibility, imagination, and fresh ideas.
GOAL #1. Outstanding Customer Experience
The library provides the people of Jacksonville an outstanding experience with every encounter.
GOAL #2. Maximum Value
The library maximizes public awareness, relationships, efficiency, and funding in order to provide the greatest benefit possible to the people of Jacksonville.
GOAL #3. Engaged and Skilled Staff
The people of Jacksonville are served by an engaged library staff with the skills and training they require to provide high-quality, 21st Century library and information services.
GOAL #4. Technological Success
The library improves service through technological advances and helps customers benefit from information technology in their own lives.
GOAL #5. Educational Success
The library supports the educational success of Jacksonville’s youth.
GOAL #6. Economic Success
The library provides information resources and programs to help the people of Jacksonville find jobs, start and grow small businesses, and manage personal finances.
Approved by the Board of Library Trustees on September 12, 2013
View complete plan
2016 Library Funding
In order to sufficiently fund library operations, programs and services, the library budget is supplemented with various private, state and federal grants, and private donations through the library’s Resource Development Office, Jacksonville Friends of the Public Library and the Jacksonville Public Library Foundation.
Fiscal Year 2016 Operating Budget
Salaries and Benefits
Direct Operating Expenses (General Fund)
Library Books and Materials
Other Internal Service Allocations
Total City Funds*
State Aid FY13 Grant**
(equipment, furniture, books and materials)
*Funding source: City of Jacksonville
**Funding source: State Aid to Libraries
Facts and Figures - Fiscal Year 2015
Main Library location: 303 Laura Street North
Locations: Main Library plus 20 branches across Jacksonville, all within Duval County
Collection size: 2,354,787 books, e-materials, periodicals, DVDs, CDs and other materials
Circulation: Library materials were checked out more than 5.9 million times
Library visitors: More than 3.4 million
Library cardholders: 675,186
Website usage: 3.1 million visits
e-Library circulation: 396,548
Program attendance for children, teens and adults: 177,977 individuals
The value of the Jacksonville Public Library lies not in merely providing information. Our value lies in the expertise behind that information that enriches a customer’s library experience—expertise provided by our knowledgeable and dedicated staff.
If you’re interested in contributing your expertise to enrich the library experience for our customers, we invite you to apply for a position with us.
Job opportunities available at the Jacksonville Public Library are listed on the City of Jacksonville Job Opportunities page.
History of JPL
The Jacksonville Public Library had its beginnings when May Moore and Florence Murphy started the "Jacksonville Library and Literary Association" in 1878. The Association was populated by various prominent Jacksonville residents and sought to create a free public library and reading room for the city.
Moore and Murphy's Association succeeded in establishing their free public reading room, Jacksonville's first, in the winter of 1878-1879. It was located in the Astor Building, on the corner of Bay and Hogan, and was manned by librarian James Douglas. Here visitors could find books, papers and periodicals.
In 1883, the Jacksonville Library and Literary Association was reorganized and renamed the Jacksonville Library Association. The new Association built Jacksonville's first public library building, described as "a neat one-story frame building having a steep roof and a small entrance porch in front facing Adams Street."
Like a Phoenix From the Flames
The Adams Street building was replaced in 1894 by a new building that the Association shared with the Board of Trade and the Elks Club. This building, on the northeast corner of Main and Adams, housed Jacksonville's public library until May 3, 1901, when the Great Fire destroyed it.
Help for rebuilding came in 1902 in the form of Andrew Carnegie, who offered $50,000 for a new library, provided that the city had a building site and appropriated at least $5,000 a year for library support.
In a citywide referendum which passed by a margin of only 15 votes (640 to 625), Jacksonville agreed. In January, 1903 the city passed an ordinance establishing a free public library and a board of nine trustees to govern it.
On October 3, 1903, ground was broken for the Carnegie library on the northeast corner of Adams and Ocean. Two years later, on June 1, 1905, the library was formally opened with George B. Utley as librarian. Known officially as the Jacksonville Free Public Library, it was the beginning of the Jacksonville Public Libraries. It was also the first tax-supported library in Florida.
Designed by architect Henry John Klutho in the Neo-Classic Revival style, the library was two stories tall, made of limestone and copper. Its design was Greek Ionic, typical of Carnegie libraries, and featured four columns on the facade. It has been described as nearly fireproof, with wood only in the floors, doors and sash.
Today it houses a law firm and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Growth and Expansion
In 1907, George Utley said that the library was "fast becoming securely established as a part of the municipal fabric, and is considered more and more a necessity and less and less a luxury by the citizens of Jacksonville." By 1910 the library was outgrowing itself. The library made use of deposit stations and sub branches, but space in the Carnegie building became an increasingly rare commodity. Thus, in the 1920's a branch system was inaugurated which continues to flourish to this day.
The first branch, the Wilder Park Library, opened November 14, 1927 on the corner of Lee and Third streets. This was followed by a bookmobile service on October 30, 1928. From that time until the present, branches have continued to be opened, renovated and modernized, resulting in the current library system of a Main Library and 16 additional units. The original branch library was replaced on June 22, 1965 with the Graham Branch Library.
With the Better Jacksonville Plan, renovations of existing branches as well as construction of six new regional units were planned. The first new branch built as part of the BJP project, University Park Branch opened in early October 2004, followed by Pablo Creek Branch later that month.
Less than a year later, in August 2005, the Better Jacksonville Plan renovations and expansions to the branch system were complete. The last renovated branch, Southeast Regional, re-opened on Monday, August 29th, with nearly 12,000 sq. ft of new floorspace, new Children's and Teen rooms, and expanded reading areas and shelving. The last new branch, the West Branch, opened on Saturday, August 27th, with nearly 50,000 sq. ft., making this newest addition the third largest library in the system.
Recession and Revival
In the 1950's public interest in the libraries faded, along with adequate budget support. Lack of funding led to low book stocks, poorly trained staff and poorly maintained buildings. As Librarian Joseph F. Marron stated in an annual report, "Impending institutional bankruptcy was a phrase being applied to this first tax-supported public library in the state of Florida."
However, when the city commission and city council approved a 19 percent increase in the libraries' operational budget for 1957, the Jacksonville Public Libraries began to revive. The Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library, formed in 1956 with the intent of inspiring interest in libraries, are credited as a major influence in bringing about the increased budget.
During these years, the Main Library continued to be inadequate. In 1957, Library Consultant John Hall Jacobs identified the need for a new main library as the single greatest need of the system. After his survey, Jacksonville began to seriously consider a new main facility.
Again, the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library, pushed hard for support of the libraries. A major capital campaign was instituted to inspire the public to vote for the construction of a new Main Library. When the votes were counted, library enthusiasts had won -- Jacksonville would get its new library building.
In March 1960, the city approved a location for the new Main Library: the site of old City Hall, along with 60 additional feet of property previously occupied by the Windle Hotel. After selecting the design submitted by Taylor Hardwick, a prominent local architect, construction could begin. In March 1964, ground was broken at 122 North Ocean Street. On November 28, 1965, the new building was dedicated, and the next day it was opened for service to the public.
The Main Library was named after Haydon Burns, former Mayor of Jacksonville (1949-1965) and Governor of Florida (1965-67). The structure was designed to be both aesthetic and useful. As one newspaper reporter said of the library, "the ultramodern showplace is a symphony of color, texture and functional design."
The 21st Century and Beyond
On September 3, 2005, the Haydon Burns Library closed its doors for the last time. The Main Library building was now over 30 years old and showing its age. Due to space and wiring limitations, the building is inadequate for the needs of the growing Jacksonville community. In September of 2000, the citizens of Jacksonville voted for the Better Jacksonville Plan, which provided funding for a new Main Library building, six new regional branch libraries and improvements at most existing branches.
On November 12, 2005, the new Main Library opened to the public. The opening is a historic event for the library system and the City of Jacksonville. It marks the completion of an unprecedented period of growth for the system under the Better Jacksonville Plan. It adds to the city's architectural and cultural landscape and provides a wonderful gathering place downtown for the entire community. The new Main Library offers specialized reading rooms, public access to hundreds of computers and extensive collection of books and other materials.
The Main Library remains the centerpiece for a library system which has developed and grown dramatically for over a century. With the construction of new facilities and the modernizing of old ones, Jacksonville's libraries continue to change to meet the needs of its customers . It is with optimism and enthusiasm that the Jacksonville Public Library looks ahead to the years to come.
Special District Accountability Program
Jacksonville Public Library - General Information
303 N. Laura Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Registered Agent: Mark Merritt
303 N. Laura Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Governing Body Members: (email, term, appointing authority)
Rates or amounts for current FY (click Returns panel)
General Financial Information
- Chapter 602 JACKSONVILLE ETHICS CODE
- Florida Commission on Ethics - Choose "Ethics Laws" under Research box near bottom of web page
Retirement Benefit Plan
Capacity Plan Final Recommendations
Charting a course for the continued growth and development of the Jacksonville Public Library.
The Jacksonville Public Library selected through competitive bid Godfrey's Associates, Inc., a library planning and consulting firm, to develop a Capacity Plan to guide the library in delivering services.
Godfrey's Associates utilized the data we collected in our earlier strategic planning process but also looked in more detail at JPL's capacity to provide services in the constrained fiscal environment we expect to operate in for the next few years. In addition, the firm examined our buildings and technology, and involved the community in making decisions about facilities, services and service capacity, and funding into the future.
The consultants delivered a written capacity plan to JPL covering a 10 year time period. With input from the Library, the community, and stakeholders, the consultants formulated an integrated capacity plan that provides a roadmap for moving toward more sustainable facilities, Information Technology, services, and funding; that will guide decision making for resource deployment and service delivery; and that will include priorities, goals and objectives for the next 10 years.
The Jacksonville Public Library Capacity Plan: Recommendations from the Board of Library Trustees
For more information, contact Richard Mott, Manager for Strategic Initiatives.