• The rich history of the Library is presented in a chronological series of narrative panels using authentic photos from the Library's collection.
    The rich history of the Library is presented in a chronological series of narrative panels using authentic photos from the Library's collection.
  • The story of the Library is presented in three eras that are set back in illuminated alcoves.
    The story of the Library is presented in three eras that are set back in illuminated alcoves.
  • Each era's timeline is framed by large, historical photos and a Cleveland map from the time period.
    Each era's timeline is framed by large, historical photos and a Cleveland map from the time period.
  • As Cleveland grew in population and communities, so did the Library's collections and services.
    As Cleveland grew in population and communities, so did the Library's collections and services.
  • The "Shoulders of Giants" exhibit focuses on 54 years of leadership by three individuals. The current era moves the visitor toward the 150th anniversary of the Library.
    The "Shoulders of Giants" exhibit focuses on 54 years of leadership by three individuals. The current era moves the visitor toward the 150th anniversary of the Library.
  • The three leaders who were responsible for transforming the Library into the preeminent institution it is today.
    The three leaders who were responsible for transforming the Library into the preeminent institution it is today.
  • The entrance signage honors the former Library director, Andrew A. Venable Jr.
    The entrance signage honors the former Library director, Andrew A. Venable Jr.
  • The namesake director is featured on an exhibit with nearly a decade of accomplishments.
    The namesake director is featured on an exhibit with nearly a decade of accomplishments.

Cleveland Public Library
Andrew A. Venable Jr.
Visitor Center

Opening in 1869, the Cleveland Public Library was the first public library to allow people direct access to books, establishing the “open shelf system.” This inspired libraries worldwide.

This remarkable fact, and many other significant accomplishments are highlighted in the timeline exhibit area located as visitors enter the Louis Stokes Wing – one of two main library buildings occupying one square block in downtown Cleveland.

Cleveland Public Library was awarded a 5-star rating in the 2016 Library Journal index of public libraries. We are proud to help bring the Cleveland Public Library’s story to all who visit.