Abigail Golder

While people visit Phoenix for shopping, golf and beautiful weather, locals know the city has far more to offer. The desert culture is alive in all corners of this southwestern metropolis. Whether you’re new to town or just ready for a unique adventure, explore this city’s architectural masterpieces and cozy book nooks at the best public libraries in Phoenix.

1 – Burton Barr Central Library


The Burton Barr Library recently reopened.

After a much-needed year-long renovation, the Burton Barr Central Library recently reopened its doors as the flagship library of Phoenix. Located downtown, local architect, Will Bruder, designed the building in 1995. Holding a collection of over one million books, the library is often referred to as a warehouse of books. The building combines elements of innovative structural design and lighting systems. This library is considered an architectural icon of the city. It’s also kept up with the latest technology and is praised for its energy savings, low costs, and minimal design aesthetics. Consequently, it was awarded the Crescordia Award for Environmental Excellence! Keep an eye out for local art and a Phoenix history exhibit while you’re there!

The Burton Barr Central Library is located at 1221 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85004.

2 – Desert Foothills Library

You can find this library in its new location, recently renovated and expanded. However, the best part of this branch is the amazing views of the Tonto National Forest from the library’s new patio. Throughout its existence, volunteers kept the library alive with book sales, breakfasts, educational programs, and other fundraising efforts. Now, you can feel this strong community presence within its walls. Be sure to explore the short walk up behind the library as well on Saguaro Ridge. The small preserve offers incredible panoramic views of the Downtown Phoenix area.

The Desert Hills Library is located at 38443 N Schoolhouse Rd, Cave Creek, AZ 85331.

3 – Civic Center Library


The Civic Center Public Library was designed by the famous Frank Lloyd Wright.

Scottsdale is full of sunshine, shops, outdoor activities, and to many bookworms’ delight, the Civic Center Library. This popular library is located on the 4th floor of the Marin County Civic Center Administration Building. The 103,000-square foot space is open seven days a week and offers a diverse selection of books for youths, teens, and adults. There are also 73 public use computers, so there’s always availability.

In addition to a great selection of books and technology, this library is home to the Anne T. Kent California Room, a  resource dedicated to the area’s local history archive. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building is not only unique, some might say it’s a historical monument. You can find a permanent collection of books and videos about Frank Lloyd Wright. Or check out the Eureka Loft–a free collaborative workspace open to the public.

Scottsdale’s Civic Center Library is located at 3839 N Drinkwater Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251.

4 – Tempe Public Library

With a large selection of reading materials, computers, activities for children and a coffee shop and cafe, the Tempe Public Library is a great place to feed your mind–and stomach. Avid readers can curl up here for hours with a book or project, surrounded by the smells of fresh-brewed coffee and pastries. Plus, because they receive so many donated books a year, the Friends Bookstore located inside the library resells these to the public, supporting the library itself. This branch also hosts a variety of low-cost and/or free learning opportunities for adults 50 and over. Courses ranging from science, art, literature, world religions, and more. Arizona State University professors and knowledgeable community teachers teach all the courses.

The Tempe Public Library is located at 3500 S Rural Rd, Tempe, AZ 85282.

5 – Cholla Library

An oldie but a must-see – the Cholla Library may have opened in 1977, but it keeps up with the other libraries available in Phoenix. With its public computers, huge selection of CDs and DVDs, plus 30,000-square feet of study rooms and books, you can use this library as a comfortable retreat from the world.

Plus, the building itself is unique with massive cement walls, Quonset-style corrugated metal roof, bright yellow shelving, and even a yellow brick road in the lobby that directs you the service desk and self check-out. A kinetic light sculpture is on display, and you can also pick up culture passes to other local museums and attractions.

The Cholla Library is located at 10050 N Metro Pkwy E, Phoenix, AZ 85051.

6 – Acacia Library

Size doesn’t always matter–especially at the Acacia Library. While this 6,600-square foot space may be one of the smallest Arizona libraries, it’s definitely one of the coziest. Due to the limited space, they don’t feature the largest book collection on hand, but you can request any book via the Phoenix Public Library system to put on hold and pick up. This handy service, plus free Wifi and meeting spaces, make it one the most charming libraries to escape with a good read.

The Acacia Library is located at 750 E Townley Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85020.

7 – Yucca Library

Bookworms will love the diverse selection of reads, services, programs, and collections at the Yucca Library. In addition to that, the library also offers an extensive collection of Spanish-language and English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) materials. Also, there are fun readings and story-time available for children.

The Yucca Library is located at 5648 N 15th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85015.

Ready, Set, Read!

Whether you’re an avid reader or on the hunt for a place to get work done, Phoenix’s libraries are all an ideal spot to curl up with a great book. All easily accessible, family-friendly, and full of community events to experience, you could spend every weekend at your local library. So why don’t you? Hop in your car and visit each of the best public libraries in Phoenix.

Have a favorite public library in Phoenix? Leave a comment below to let us know where it is and what makes it great.


If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, philosopher and poet