5 Coolest Public Libraries in Florida

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By Giselle Balido

January 20, 2023

Scattered across Florida, they range from the most beautiful, to the most historic. Wouldn’t you like to “check” them out?

Alright, book worms, this one’s for you! Whether you visit your public library to inhale the uniquely intoxicating “papery” aroma of print books, to check out the latest releases on e-books, or simply to enjoy the peace and quiet, you’ll be happy to explore these holiest of temples for bookworms of all ages and literary preferences.

Gulf Gate Public Library, Sarasota

5 Coolest Public Libraries in Florida
Image Gulf Gate website

Named the most beautiful library in Florida by Business Insider, the Gulf Gate Library is not just a repository of books, but also a fantastic community space with meeting and conference rooms, a technology lab, a large teen center, and a dedicated children’s story time room. And if you want to swoon like the best of Jane Austen’s heroines, take note: this enchanting place has two gorgeous reading gardens (sigh)!

Location: 7112 Curtiss Ave, Sarasota, FL 34231

Phone: (941) 861-1230

The Mandel Public Library, West Palm Beach

5 Coolest Public Libraries in Florida
Mandel Library website

Fodor’s Travel described it as “awe-inspiring” and for good reason. This gorgeous library has four floors designed to please the most ardent knowledge junkie with print books and e-books, reference materials, an art center, a KidSpace with summer programs that include free small group tutoring, and a technology and innovation center. Cool things to be found at Mandel include daily free lunches, an on-site licensed social worker, homework centers, and hundreds of free programs and lectures each month.

Located in a vibrant community near the Intracoastal Waterway, the elegant structure’s tropical feel and city skyline views charm the visitors, which number more than a half million annually.

Location: 411 Clematis St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Phone: (561) 868-7700

RELATED: Florida Second in Nation With Most School Books Banned

Walton-DeFuniak Public Library, DeFuniak Springs

5 Coolest Public Libraries in Florida
DeFuniak Library website

There are over 25,000 volumes available at the Walton-DeFuniak Library located in the historic district of DeFuniak Springs and established in 1886. So, while it may not be the biggest, it has the distinction of being the second oldest in Florida, with only the library in St. Augustine considered to be older.

But not so fast, St. Augustine! Those of you who are fans of literary intrigue will be happy to know that, as their website reads, “some facts have come to light recently which prove that our library is the oldest in the state that was built as a library and still continues to be used as such.”

Housed in a quaint Victorian-style building surrounded by lush vegetation, this enchanting place is evocative of days of yore, when bookworms were happy sitting for hours while getting lost in a good book.

Location: 3 Circle Drive DeFuniak Springs, FL 32435

Phone: (850) 892-3624

RELATED: 5 Latino Trailblazers Who Should Be in All History Books

Jacksonville Public Library Main

5 Coolest Public Libraries in Florida
Jacksonville Library website

And then there are those who like their book palaces grand and monumental, a temple worthy of its precious cargo. The Jacksonville Public Library consists of 20 community and neighborhood branches, but its Main Library is a wonderland for book lovers.

Opened in 2005, the Main Library is the cultural hub of downtown Jacksonville. It boasts several permanent art exhibits, three rotating gallery spaces, a Makerspace, and the jewel in the crown: a gorgeous grand reading room, and it’s all for free! Visitors don’t need a library card to enjoy the art and the programs within its walls.

Location: 303 N Laura St, Jacksonville, FL 32202

Phone: (904) 255-2665

Orlando Public Library

5 Coolest Public Libraries in Florida
Orlando Public Library system

We’ve seen the most beautiful, the oldest and even the most “awe inspiring.” But when we talk about size, this library takes the prize. Opened in 1923, it is the headquarters for the Orange County Library System and, at 290,000 square feet, it is larger than any other library in the state of Florida.

Here you will find, besides rows and rows of books, areas for children with space for reading, learning, interacting with other kids and families, and navigating the web in a safe environment. On the third floor you will find the Friends of the Library Bookstore, where contributed books are made available to the community.

And if you are a genealogy buff, this library houses one of the most thorough collections of genealogy available in the city’s library system, so you can start digging into the past to unearth your family’s roots.

101 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

Phone: (407) 835-7323



  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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