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Birmingham Public Library

Birmingham Public Library

The Birmingham Public Library was established in 1886 as an adjunct of the city’s public schools. John Herbert Phillips, then superintendent of the public school system, set up a library in a room adjoining his office, and this particular library grew over several decades. Finally, in 1913, a public library board was established, and the City of Birmingham assumed responsibility for funding the institution. From humble but hopeful beginnings in a room not much bigger than a closet, the Birmingham Public Library concluded the 20th century as one of the largest and most well-respected library systems in the southeast. In 1998 holdings amounted to more than a million books and non-book items including audio and video recordings and computer files, more than 2,500 current periodical subscriptions and over 3000 titles in periodical back files, more than a million government documents in paper and microforms, and system-wide access to the Internet in every location. Annual circulation of approximately 1.7 million checkouts is matched by an equal number of materials being used in the libraries and through electronic access. Birmingham Public Library accounts for 46% of the circulation in the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, which posts a combined circulation of almost 3.7 million items checked out annually.

The mission of the Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life long learning, cultural enrichment and enjoyment.

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