The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library
is a public, Carnegie library
A Carnegie library is a library built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public and university library systems...
in Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census....
. Founded in 1818, when Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...
was still a part of the Mississippi Territory
The Territory of Mississippi was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from April 7, 1798, until December 10, 1817, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Mississippi....
, it is the oldest continuing library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...
in the state.
It was first located in the office of attorney John Nelson Spotswood Jones, in the Boardman Building, which is now a part of Constitution Hall Park. The Library also occupied space in the Green Academy from 1821 until Union
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...
soldiers burned the school during the Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...
, and moved to borrowed spaces several times until the Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century...
Library was opened in 1916. A new building was constructed to accommodate city and county growth, and opened in 1966. The area enjoyed rapid growth with the influx of government employees involved in the development of the space program, including the United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...
and NASA, and the library eventually needed more space as early as 1969. Library officials began planning for a new building in 1983.
The current facility's main branch, sometimes referred to as "Fort Book" for its fortress-like appearance, opened on Monroe Street in April 1987 and serves as the headquarters for the Huntsville Madison County Public Library System. The building contains 123000 square feet (11,427.1 m²), has a seating capacity
Seating capacity refers to the number of people who can be seated in a specific space, both in terms of the physical space available, and in terms of limitations set by law. Seating capacity can be used in the description of anything ranging from an automobile that seats two to a stadium that seats...
of 930 and contains over 530,000 volumes, with administrative offices located on the third floor. The library had a circulation of 1,915,548 in 2007, making it the highest-circulating library in Alabama.
The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library received a federal grant from the Library Services and Technology Act
The Library Services and Technology Act was signed on October 1, 1996 by United States President Bill Clinton. LSTA is a United States federal library grant program. Its roots come from the Library Services Act that was first enacted in 1956. LSTA replaced the Library Services and Construction Act...
in 2004 specifically to digitize photographs from the Library's Archives for inclusion in the Alabama Mosaic Project.
Other than the Main Library building in Downtown Huntsville, the HMCPL systems owns and operates 11 other Branch libraries that service the Madison County area:
| Branch || Location
| Bailey Cove Public Library
| Bessie K. Russell Library
| Eleanor E. Murphy Library
| Elizabeth Carpenter Library of New Hope
|| New Hope
New Hope is a city in Madison County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2000 census, the population is 2,539.-History:...
| Gurley Public Library
Gurley is a town in Madison County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2000 census, the population of the town is 876.-History:...
| Madison Public Library
As of the census of 2000, there were 29,329 people, 11,143 households, and 8,067 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,266.5 people per square mile . There were 12,121 housing units at an average density of 523.4 per square mile...
| Monrovia Public Library
Monrovia is an unincorporated community in Madison County, Alabama, United States. It is bordered on the south by the city of Madison, on the southeast by the city of Huntsville, on the west by Limestone County and on the north by the community of Harvest....
| Oscar Masion Branch Library
| Showers Center Library
| Tillman Hill Public Library
|| Hazel Green
Hazel Green is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Madison County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the community is 3,630.-History:...
| Triana Youth Center Library
Triana is a town located on the southern county line of Madison County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2000 census, the population of the town is 458.-Geography:...
The Triana branch is currently in progress of rebuilding after the branch was destroyed by fire in late 2009. The Branch is currently located in a trailer on the original spot.