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The Most Impressive Library in Every State

All of these libraries boast unique architectural achievements and grand collections.

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A bookshelf containing volumes of books
lensmen/Getty Images

Libraries are places of wonder, discovery, and education that are free for all to explore. Some libraries have a specialty, some are housed in beautiful buildings, and yet others tote amazing collections of novels, papers, and histories of our world.

All the best stories start in libraries. You never know what you’ll find—maybe a mystery between the ear-marked pages of a well-loved book or an adventure within the sprawling book-lined corridors. Either way, your local library houses a whole world of possibilities!

Each and every state in the United States has one library that outshines the others. These buildings break the mold and provide an amazing space for all to enter. What library from your state made the list?

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Christopher Warren/Flickr

Alabama: The Ralph Brown Draughon Library

The Ralph Brown Draughon Library at Auburn University is named after the university’s honorable former president, Ralph Brown Draughon, who led the school from 1947 to 1965.

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Alaska: The Juneau Memorial Library

The Juneau Memorial Library hosted the July 4, 1959 Statehood Ceremony where the 49-star flag was first flown in Alaska and still flies today. Here are the most popular tourist attractions in every state.

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Ellen Forsyth/Flickr

Arizona: The Arabian Public Library

The Arabian Public Library in Scottsdale won the 2009 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for its innovative desert artistry.

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Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, Little Rock

Arkansas: Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library

The Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library has been awarded for its ecological design and low carbon footprint.

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California: UC Berkeley Library system

By number of volumes, the UC Berkeley Library system has the fourth-largest university collection in America. Speaking of, here is the coolest hidden gem in each of the 50 states.

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Colorado: The Denver Public Library

The Denver Public Library was partially designed by the renowned, postmodern architect Michael Graves.

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Laura Manning/Flickr

Connecticut: The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University recently underwent a 16-month renovation, which added modern amenities but fully preserved the original, six-story glass stack tower.

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Courtesy Wilmington Public Library

Delaware: The Wilmington Public Library

The Wilmington Public Library is a historic landmark that has been standing since the 18th century. Here’s the most iconic book set in every state!

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Photo courtesy of Sarasota County Government

Florida: Gulf Gate Library

The grand opening of new Gulf Gate Library in Sarasota, Florida took place in January 2015.

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Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies

Georgia: The Russell Library for Political Science

The Russell Library for Political Science at the University of Georgia is distinguished as a charter member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress.

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Paul H. Mark, HSPLS

Hawaii: Hawaii State Library

Hawaii State Library, known for its beautiful Greco-Roman style architecture, is the flagship library of the only statewide library system in the nation.

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Idaho: The Carnegie Library

The Carnegie Library was founded by a group of women called the Women’s Columbian Club. It became Boise’s first public library upon opening in 1905.

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iStock/James Anderson

Illinois: The Chicago Public Library

The Chicago Public Library is one of 80 branches within Chicago’s public library system.

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Sarah Murray/Flickr

Indiana: The Theodore Hesburgh Library

The Theodore Hesburgh Library at Notre Dame features a mural commonly referred to as “Touchdown Jesus” for it’s location directly behind Notre Dame’s football stadium’s north end zone.

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Jason Mrachina/Flickr

Iowa: The Iowa State Law Library

The Iowa State Law Library is located in the Capitol building in Des Moines. Check out the best free tourist attraction in each US state.

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Courtesy Heather Kearns, Lawrence Public Library

Kansas: The Lawrence Public Library

The Lawrence Public Library won a 2016 AIA/ALA Library Building Award for its sleek design.

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Kentucky: The Main Library of the Louisville Library System

The Main Library of the Louisville Library System was constructed in 1906 thanks to the generosity of steel magnate and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

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Courtesy Caleb Sheaffer/Shreve Memorial Library

Louisiana: The Shreve Memorial Library

The Shreve Memorial Library is located in a former courthouse and U.S. post office.

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Garrett Fitzgerald/Flickr

Maine: Bangor Public Library

A new copper dome was added to the Bangor Public Library in October of 2013.

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Robert Burakiewicz/Flickr

Maryland: The George Peabody Library

The George Peabody Library in Mt. Vernon serves The Johns Hopkins University and is considered one of the most stunning libraries in the world.

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Miguel Vieira/Flickr

Massachusetts: The Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library is also known as the “Library for the Commonwealth” and is the third-largest public library in the United States.

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Mike Boening Photography/Flickr

Michigan: The University of Michigan Law Library

The University of Michigan Law Library controversially collaborated with Google for a book digitalization program.

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Drew Geraets/Flickr

Minnesota: The Minneapolis Central Library

The Minneapolis Central Library won the 2009 AIA/ALA Library Building Award.

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Courtesy Jackson District Library

Mississippi: The Jackson District Library

The Jackson District Library has roots tracing back to 1863, when the Young Men’s Association was formed. When the library opened in 1865, it only had 239 donated books.

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Chris Yunker/Flickr

Missouri: St. Louis Public Library

The AIA gave the St. Louis Public Library a National Honor Award for its breathtaking restoration in 2014. These are the most misspelled words in each state.

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Eric Chan/Flickr

Montana: The Hearst Free Library

The Hearst Free Library has preserved its stunning turn of the century interior design, full of dark mahogany and velvet upholstery.

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Archives and Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries

Nebraska: The Don L. Love Memorial Library

The Don L. Love Memorial Library at the University of Nebraska houses the social science and humanities portion of the university’s 3.5 million volumes.

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Courtesy of Sierra Nevada College

Nevada: The Prim Library

The Prim Library at Sierra Nevada College has a rustic, cozy, and cabin-like ambiance.

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Pablo Sanchez/Flickr

New Hampshire: The Phillips Exeter Academy Library

The Phillips Exeter Academy Library has been repeatedly awarded for its modern design.

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Kah-Wai Lin/Flickr

New Jersey: The Firestone Library

The Firestone Library at Princeton University has more books per enrolled student than any other university in America.

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Courtesy Patrick Coulie/Farmington Public Library

New Mexico: The Farmington Public Library

In Farmington, New Mexico, the Farmington Public Library hosts a Four Corners Storytelling Festival every year. It got its name because it’s close to the corners of four different states: New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.

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Andrew E. Larsen/Flickr

New York: The New York City Public Library

The New York City Public Library has the second-largest literary collection in the United States, surpassed only by the Library of Congress.

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William Yeung/Flickr

North Carolina: The Wilson Library

The Wilson Library at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill finished its original construction in 1929.

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Carrie Scarr/Flickr

North Dakota: The North Dakota State Library

The North Dakota State Library has moved a number of times since it first opened in 1907, but today it resides in the capital city of Bismark.

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Photo by Brad Feinknopf/Feinknopf Photography

Ohio: The William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library

The William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library at Ohio State University won the 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Award.

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Sage Ross/Flickr

Oklahoma: The Bizzell Memorial Library

The Bizzell Memorial Library at Oklahoma University is a gorgeous brick, columned building with an imposing clock tower. These are the best free tourist attractions in every state.

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Oregon: The Millar Library

The Millar Library at Portland State University doubled in size in 1991.

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Dan Kleinman/Flickr

Pennsylvania: The Free Library of Philadelphia

The Free Library of Philadelphia has one of the greatest rare books departments. It has objects including the raven that inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s poem.

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Will Hart/Flickr

Rhode Island: The Providence Athenaeum

The Providence Athenaeum at Brown University was founded in 1753, making it the fourth-oldest library in America.

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South Carolina: The Thomas Cooper Library

The Thomas Cooper Library at University of South Carolina overlooks a large pond, allowing its reflection to brightly glow by night.

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Photo courtesy of South Dakota State University

South Dakota: The Hilton M. Briggs Library

The Hilton M. Briggs Library at University of South Dakota features stunning, floor-to-ceiling windows so that students may read and study by natural light.

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Denise Mattox/Flickr

Tennessee: Nashville Public Library

The Nashville Public Library has been hosting its popular Children’s Story Hour every week since the event started in 1905!

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Texas State Library and Archives Commission/Flickr

Texas: The Texas State Library

The Texas State Library—originally called the National Library of the Republic of Texas— existed before Texas was officially annexed to the United States in 1848!

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Ellen Forsyth/Flickr

Utah: The Salt Lake City Public Library

The Salt Lake City Public Library is a futuristic development that won Library Journal’s ‘Library of the Year Award’ in 2006.

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J. Stephen Conn/Flickr

Vermont: St. Johnsbury Athenaeum and Public Library

St. Johnsbury Athenaeum and Public Library is also the location of one of the United State’s oldest, unaltered art galleries.

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Michael Tefft/Flickr

Virginia: The Slover Public Library

The Slover Public Library won the 2015 AIA/ALA Library Building Award.

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Washington: Western Washington University’s Library

Western Washington University’s Library is located in the picturesque, quaint and forested town of Bellingham.

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Paula Cristina/Flickr

West Virginia: West Virginia University’s Downtown Library

West Virginia University’s Downtown Library is one of eight branches in the WVU library system.

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Richie Diesterheft/Flickr

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Public Library

In 1878, a national competition was held to pick a design for the building of the Milwaukee Public Library. Seventy-four entries were received, including an entry from Frank Lloyd Wright, who sadly was not selected.

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Acroterion/Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming: Huff Memorial Library

Huff Memorial Library perfectly compliments the surroundings of Wyoming’s Rocky Mountains. Next, check out the best-kept secret in every state.