The Monroe Country Library System comprises 21 town & village locations, 10 Rochester Public Library branch locations, and the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County located in the heart of downtown Rochester.
Signing up for a free library card gives you access to all 32 Monroe County libraries, plus the digital library on Libby, an app by OverDrive. There is also a V.I.P. (very important places) pass you can borrow which provides discounts at area attractions.
I found this quote on the library website both funny and fitting:
‘What does the word library mean to you? Does it mean a stuffy silent place where bookworms gather the dust of ages? Well, if it does you’re sure not keeping up with the times…Snap out of it, Brother…Wake up and live! You’re missing a lot.’”May 1936 article in the Rochester Gas & Electric News, author Landis S. Smith
1. Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County
Rochester, established and current location in Rundel building since 1932, Bausch & Lomb building added in 1997.
Central Library occupies two buildings located across the street from each other on South Avenue in Center City Rochester.
Construction began on the Rundel Memorial Library Building on the Genesee River in 1932 and opened to the public in 1936.
Roughly 50 years later, in 1997, the Bausch & Lomb Public Library Building opened. The two buildings are joined together by a tunnel under South Avenue.
Parking in the attached Court Street Garage is free to library patrons; just present your book receipt when you exit.
The Rundel building sits on the old subway and canal bed, and current Johnson-Seymour Millrace. Inside the library, make your way to the back for a great view of the river.
If you get a chance to take a “Roof to River” tour, do it! You are lead behind the scenes to see the basement, collection stacks, book distribution, trap doors allowing access to the river’s cool breeze, and a view from the roof that’s exceptional!
And the Rundel Library building may be haunted–even Ghost Hunters was called in to investigate.
Look for the secret room in the children’s section of the Bausch & Lomb Library Building. The original secret room in the Rundel Library Building is no longer accessible (though you can ask to see where it was!) The experience is still magical, especially if you grew up listening to stories in the secret room.
Check out this Memorial Art Gallery “Story Walk” feature.
Monroe County Town & Village Libraries
Each of our 19 towns/villages has at least one library, with two towns maintaining two libraries: the Town of Wheatland (primary location in Scottsville with a branch in Mumford) and the Town of Greece (primary location on Long Pond with the Barnard Crossing branch on Dewey Ave).
Pittsford Community Library
Pittsford, established in 1803, current location since 2005.
Fun fact: It’s the only one of the Monroe County Libraries with a Starbucks inside. There is also a reading garden on the east side of the building where you can enjoy morning sun, afternoon shade, and the sound of life in a canal town.
Ogden Farmers’ Library
Spencerport, established in 1815, current location since 1992.
Fairport Public Library
Fairport, established in 1840, current location since 1978.
Parma Public Library
Hilton, established in 1891, current location since 1978.
Mendon Public Library
Mendon, established in 1912, current location since 2011.
Rush Public Library
Rush, established in 1914, current location since 1935.
East Rochester Public Library
East Rochester, established in 1922, current location since 1978.
Webster Public Library
Webster, established in 1929, current location since 2016.
Scottsville Free Library
Scottsville, established and current location since 1935.
Brockport, established in 1936, current location since 1996.
Penfield Public Library
Penfield, established in 1942, current location since 1975.
Irondequoit Public Library
West Irondequoit, established in 1947, current location since 2015.
Fun fact: East and West Irondequoit originally maintained 2 separate buildings closer to their high schools. In 2015, they merged in this brand new structure next to the town hall. (On a personal note, I grew up within walking distance of the West Irondequoit branch by the House of Guitars and Cooper Deli. What more could a kid ask for?!?)
Newman Riga Library
Churchville, established and current location since 1952.
Brighton Memorial Library
Brighton, established and current location since 1953.
Henrietta Public Library
Henrietta, established in 1958, current location since 2019.
Gates Public Library
Gates, established in 1961, current location since 2011.
Chili Public Library
Chili, established in 1962, current location since 1997. Moving to it’s new location in May, 2021.
Greece Public Library
Greece, established in 1963, current location since 2000.
Scottsville Free Library, Mumford Branch
Mumford, established and current location since 1971.
Greece Public Library, Barnard Crossing Branch
Greece, established and current location since 1998.
Hamlin Public Library
Hamlin, established in 2000, current location since 2014.
City of Rochester Public Branch Libraries
Each and every branch library serves as a center of learning and cultural engagement for their neighborhood. In addition to rich programming for children, they offer a variety of book clubs, musical performances, local art shows, and other special services, events and classes.
Established in 1919, current location since 1961 (building built in 1939).
Established in 1926, current location since 1984.
Fun fact: The Arnett Branch is our first solar powered location.
Established and current location since 1930.
Fun fact: This branch has a TARDIS for an elevator.
Established in 1953, current location since 2009.
Fun fact: The 40,000-square-foot Thomas P. Ryan Jr. Community Center houses the Sully Library, Webster Community Center and Audubon School No. 33.
Maplewood Community Library
Established and current location since 1959.
Phillis Wheatley Community Library
Establish and current location since 1971.
Fun fact: The library was designed by architect James H. Johnson, who also designed the Liberty Pole, Mushroom House, St. John the Evangelist Church in Greece, St. Januarius Church in Naples, Temple Sinai in Brighton. It was named in honor of Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753 – 1784). She was the first published African-American woman and first published African-American poet.
Establish and current location since 1985.
Frederick Douglass Community Library
Establish and current location since 1986 (renamed in 2016, previously Highland Branch).
Establish and current location since 1994.
Fun fact: Lincoln Branch is home to the largest collections of books and films in Spanish in the RPL system and many of its staff members are bi-lingual. In addition, Lincoln offers the only Toy Library in the county. Not only can you borrow directly from the branch, you can look at their collection online and place a hold or transfer, just like books and other media. On top of that, they offer a 2500 sq. ft. play-space for young children to interact with other children, and with their caregivers.
Establish and current location since 1966.
Fun Fact: There is a reading garden located in the back of the library property, with a meandering path and bench seating.
When reading books, the destination is the journey. You can travel the world, through all of time and space. Here are a few places to start your adventure!
Rochester’s fun facts will inspire you to explore more. And these are just some of the historical tidbits that make Rochester special.
What do you value most about our Monroe County libraries?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!
For each of the Monroe County Libraries, I’ve noted the date a public library was established in the area, and the date they moved into their most current building.
Thank you to the MCLS Local Historians for helping gather that information. I think it helps emphasize the importance libraries have had throughout our history!