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U.S. Public Libraries Worth a Look

Are your favorites found in the 800s? Or perhaps the artiste in you seeks out the 700s? Or the deep thinker in you heads to the 100s? If you have no idea what we’re talking about then perhaps you should head to the 900s and find a book on the history of the Dewey Decimal System or possibly a biography on Mr. Melville Dewey himself. 

Dewey is best known for the decimal classification system for public and school libraries which bears Dewey’s name. December 10 is the day to recognize the Dewey Decimal System as well as the birth of the man who created this systematic way of categorizing books, which is still in use some 120 years later at more than 200,000 libraries across the country.  You just might find the topic of this story shelved in the 700s as we explore some of the best libraries in the U.S.

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It’s fitting that a man who gave us so many wonderful books has a library named in his honor. That man would be known to many of us as Dr. Seuss, but the library that bears his name is the Geisel Library on the campus of the University of California San Diego. This example of Brutalist architecture (think massive blocks of concrete with stark edges), is named in honor of Theodor and Audrey Geisel and in addition to the research and education collection, houses the Dr. Seuss Collection, which contains drawings, sketches, manuscripts, and other memorabilia of the man who gave us The Cat in the Hat and Horton Hears a Who, among many other children’s classics.

Boston Public Library
Boston Public Library


The Boston Public Library was the first large, free municipal public library in the country and opened in 1854. The second structure to serve as the library building was built in the late 1890s and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Housing 24 million volumes in its collection, it is the third-largest public library in the country, coming in behind the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. Designed as a “palace for the people” by American Beaux-Arts architect, Charles McKim, it was the first library to have a children’s room. It was also the first to offer free lending and open a branch library. 

Stay with us at Tuxbury Pond RV Campground in nearby South Hampton, and book an RV site, tent site, tiny house, or cottage.

New Hampshire

The Peterborough Town Library is the oldest tax-supported public library in the world and was actually in operation before the Boston Public Library. The collection of books was originally available at the town’s general store, but a structure to house the library was built in 1893. Two expansion wings have since been added and since 2011 plans to renovate and rebuild have been in the works and a virtual groundbreaking ceremony was held this past May as the project, which as plans to keep the original 1893 structure intact, moves forward.

Stay with us at Tuxbury Pond RV Campground in nearby South Hampton, and book an RV site, tent site, tiny house, or cottage.


The Seattle Central Library certainly doesn’t look like the libraries of Mr. Dewey’s days. Instead, the Seattle Central Library is an 11-story building of glass and steel designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Opened in 2004, the building was designed to continue its collection for years and years and years to come – it can house more than 1.45 million books and materials!  In addition to its books, the library has 400 computers accessible to the public. 

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Washington, D.C.

The Library of Congress, in our nation’s capital, is the largest library in the world! Its collection, which includes books, manuscripts, films, maps, and more, holds more than 128 million items. In fact, it is comprised of three buildings. It was founded in 1800 and housed in the Capitol Building but sadly, when the British troops burned the Capitol Building in 1814, the entire collection was lost. Thomas Jefferson then sold his library collection to Congress and that served as the foundation of what is now the library’s massive collection. The collections include materials in more than 450 foreign languages, rare books and manuscripts, presidential papers, and an edition of The Gutenburg Bible. 


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