Main Library

Main Library CampusMain Library

325 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114

Louis Stokes Wing

525 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114

Phone: (216) 623-2800
Fax: (216) 623-7015
Email: information@cplorg.bigscoots-staging.com
Manager: Robin Wood (Senior Director of Public Services – Main Library)

There are on-street parking meters available on East 6th between St. Clair and Superior (including designated handicapped spaces) and nearby paid parking garages.

Library Hours

Day of the WeekHours
Monday – Saturday10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
SundayClosed

Drive-Up Window

Day of the WeekHours
Monday – Friday7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Saturday10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
SundayClosed

Cleveland Public Library offers full service at the drive-up window located at the rear of the Louis Stokes Wing on Rockwell Avenue, just west of East 6th Street.

Use the drive-up window to check out and return books, magazines, and audio/video recordings–even to sign up for a library card! You can have books and other materials sent to the drive-up window for pick-up by selecting “CLEVELAND Main Drive-Up Window” when placing a reserve in the Library’s online catalog. Otherwise, patrons may phone ahead to any of the Main Library subject departments and request that library materials be sent to the drive-up window (please allot enough time for library staff to bring your materials to the drive-up window).

History

The Main Library in downtown Cleveland consists of the historic Main Library Building built in 1925 and renovated in 1999; the Louis Stokes Wing completed in 1997; and the Eastman Reading Garden located between the two buildings. The two buildings and the garden take up an entire city block on Superior Avenue between East 3rd Street and East 6th Street. The Main Library’s Subject Departments are divided between the two buildings.

Cleveland Public Library first opened as a “Public School Library” for the Cleveland Board of Education in 1869. It was the first large public library to allow people to select their own books directly from its bookshelves. For 56 years, the Library was in a series of temporary and rented spaces. In 1925, Main Library opened to the public in a new building designed by the Cleveland architectural firm of Walker & Weeks. The new Main Library proved to be immensely popular: The original estimate of 5,000 daily users was soon eclipsed; by the early 1930s, more than 12,000 individuals walked through the doors every day.

By the 1950s, the Main Library’s collection had tripled in size and the Library was short on space. In November 1957, voters approved a $3 million bond issue for the Library to purchase and renovate the six-story building that was the former location of The Plain Dealer.

The succeeding decades were difficult times for both Cleveland and its public library system. Increased migration to the suburbs led to a decline in the city’s population and resources. During this time, circulation at the Main Library and its neighborhood branches declined dramatically; from a high of 10,374,652 in 1932 to 3,402,050 in 1970. Funds for the purchase of new books and materials, as well as for the maintenance of library buildings decreased.

The last quarter of the 20th century has seen dramatic improvements in the Library’s fortunes. Due to the vision and perseverance of key staff and influential directors, the Library not only reversed its downward trend but became strongly positioned to meet the challenges of the 21st century. In 1975, the library built and renovated neighborhood branches while streamlining the Library’s operations. By 1981, the card catalog was fully computerized.

By the late 1980s, after the Library had completed the renovation of its neighborhood branches, attention turned to the Main Library downtown, where outmoded mechanical and electrical systems were posing a hazard to the public, the staff, and the collections. In November 1991, by a 71% majority, voters approved a $90 million bond issue to go forward with a plan for collection preservation, new technology, and renovation.

An entirely new downtown building was dedicated on April 12, 1997. With eleven floors, including the lower level, the new 267,000-square-foot building has more than 30 miles of bookshelves–enough for 1.3 million books and is equipped with the latest electronic resources. The new building is named for Cleveland native Louis Stokes, who, in 1968, became the first African-American elected to the U.S. Congress from Ohio. During his illustrious career, Representative Stokes helped found the Congressional Black Caucus, and he became the first black member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He was re-elected fourteen times before retiring in 1998.

The $24 million renovations of the landmark Main Building called for a sensitivity to the building’s architectural integrity while incorporating new technologies. Electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems were replaced. Modern fire safety systems, including sprinklers, were installed, and trenches were cut into the cement floors to accommodate wiring for new computer and electrical equipment. New mechanical machinery was placed out of sight in the basement, returning its court to an uncluttered and light-filled state. As part of the architects’ goal of returning the building to its original luster, historic ceiling finishes were restored, the exterior marble was cleaned, historical light fixtures were restored and rewired, decorative metalwork was repaired and polished, and the original leather doors were rejuvenated. For the first time in decades, the Main Building’s historic spaces and architectural details can be fully appreciated, while featuring many technological advances and conveniences.

Demonstrating the Library’s continuing support for the visual arts, the Library Board commissioned a substantial collection of permanent art to be included in the buildings and garden. Thirteen artists of local and national reputation created original art for the Main Library, the Louis Stokes Wing and the Eastman Reading Garden. Selected by a jury coordinated with the Committee for Public Art, the artworks are significant additions to the Library’s and the city’s artistic heritage. The new art at the Main Library was made possible largely by generous grants from Cleveland foundations, corporations, and nonprofit groups.

Today, the Cleveland Public Library circulates one of the largest and most extensive collections in the country, boasting close to ten million items.

Upcoming events

    Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Monday, March 04 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.

  • Event For adults
  • TechCentral MakerMonday Spring Cricut Project

    Main Library (Downtown), 2nd Floor – Conference C
    Monday, March 04 | 11 am

    Join TechCentral's Makers as we explore using the equipment in MakerSpace to create some cool projects. Patrons will meet in a classroom for a focused lesson on using the featured equipment. These focused projects will guide you through selecting, designing, and making our themed project for the day.  

    Patrons will participate in the event’s activities and complete the designated project. 

    The class size is limited to 10 individuals, and registration is required due to limited materials. 

  • Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Tuesday, March 05 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.

  • Event For adults
  • My Digital Life Word Workshop

    Main Library (Downtown), 2nd Floor – Conference C
    Tuesday, March 05 | 11 am
  • Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Wednesday, March 06 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.

  • Event For adults
  • My Digital Life: Mouse and Keyboard Funamentals

    Main Library (Downtown), 2nd Floor – Conference C
    Wednesday, March 06 | 11:15 am

    You do not need to be the best at using the keyboard to use a computer; there are several things that you should know how to do to make it easier. Join our virtual students as they and you learn the basics of using a keyboard and mouse to use their computer.

  • Event For adults
  • Cleveland Public Library’s Photography Club

    Main Library (Downtown), 1st Floor – Brett Hall
    Wednesday, March 06 | 12 pm

    Have you ever been inspired to pull out your camera when you're in Main Library? Or wished you had the chance to spend some time behind the scenes in our historic buildings? Or wished to build community around your photography hobby? Now's your chance!

    Every other Wednesday this spring, meet in Brett Hall for a chance to capture the photos you wish you had thought to take on your last visit. Be inspired by our architecture, rare materials, artworks, and other hidden gems within the Library to build your photography portfolio. As the weather breaks, we will explore Downtown as well.

  • Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Thursday, March 07 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.

  • Event For adults
  • My Digital Life Excel Workshop

    Main Library (Downtown), 2nd Floor – Conference C
    Thursday, March 07 | 11 am
  • Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Friday, March 08 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.

  • Writers Unplugged: Lisa Unger

    Main Library (Downtown), Lower Level – Auditorium
    Friday, March 08 | 7 pm

    Writers Unplugged is a chance to hear your favorite writers or new to you writers in conversation as you were eavesdropping on them in a coffee shop.

    Bestselling writer, Lisa Unger, will discuss her newest book, The New Couple in 5B.

    Books will be available for purchase and signing. 

  • Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Saturday, March 09 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.

  • Event For adults
  • Genealogy Clinic

    Main Library (Downtown), 6th Floor – Center for Local and Global History
    Saturday, March 09 | 10:30 am

    Genealogy Clinics are informal sessions during which you can receive help from expert volunteers and Library staff.

    For beginners: volunteers provide informal instruction in starting your family history/genealogy.

    For more advanced researchers: volunteers draw on their extensive experience to help you answer your genealogy questions and to help you find strategies to move your research forward. 

    Beginners should plan to arrive by 10:45 to take advantage of the group instruction for beginners. All others can arrive at any time between 10:30am and 1:30pm.  

    Please contact the Center for Local and Global History at 216-623-2864 or clgh@cpl.org with any questions. 

  • Music at Main: Andrew McManus & Tiffany Schaefer

    Main Library (Downtown), 3rd Floor – Fine Arts Lobby
    Saturday, March 09 | 2 pm

    Join us for an early St. Patrick's Day celebration as singer-songwriter Andrew McManus, a native of  Armagh, Northern Ireland, performs with Tiffany Schaefer.

  • Event For teens
  • Sticker Making

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – Room 477 – Storytime Room
    Saturday, March 09 | 2:30 pm

    Make your own customized stickers with your own original artwork or recycled comic books.

  • Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Monday, March 11 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.

  • Event For adults
  • TechCentral MakerMonday Spring Direct to Garment Print

    Main Library (Downtown), 2nd Floor – Conference C
    Monday, March 11 | 11 am

    Join TechCentral's Makers as we explore using the equipment in MakerSpace to create some cool projects. Patrons will meet in a classroom for a focused lesson on using the featured equipment. These focused projects will guide you through selecting, designing, and making our themed project for the day.  

    Patrons will participate in the event’s activities and complete the designated project. 

    The class size is limited to 10 individuals, and registration is required due to limited materials. 

    *Patrons must supply their shirt; only the cost of printing the shirt will be covered for this MakerMonday, limited to one shirt per registration

  • Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Tuesday, March 12 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.

  • Event For adults
  • My Digital Life Word Workshop

    Main Library (Downtown), 2nd Floor – Conference C
    Tuesday, March 12 | 11 am
  • Event For all ages
  • Art from the Heart and Soul

    Main Library (Downtown), 4th Floor – ForLit Gallery/Classroom
    Wednesday, March 13 | 12 am

    Sister Milunka Pejoska creates and draws original pencil artwork from her subconscious imaginaation. This exhibit in the International Languages Art Gallery will run from January10 – June 10, 2024.