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Rochester Public Library

About the Rochester Public Library

The Rochester Public Library enriches quality of life by providing educational, recreational, aesthetic and informational materials, services and programs to help people follow their own lines of inquiry and enlightenment. 

The Library consists of the Central Library, which includes Monroe County Library System support services and Community Services, which includes the city branch libraries. In accordance with New York State Education Law, the Library is governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees. 

The Mayor appoints trustees, with the approval of City Council, for five-year terms.

Rochester Public Library: A Rich History

Public libraries in Rochester have a long and rich history. What began as subscription libraries in the early 1800s have evolved into a vibrant network located throughout our city neighborhoods. Our libraries are filled with people of all ages coming together to explore literature through the thousands of books and magazines offered at each location; exploring the online world through the high-speed Internet connections and computers provided free of charge to our users; and learning about new cultures and ideas through the many and diverse programs offered daily in our libraries.

The Rochester Public Library, founded in 1911, consists of one Central Library located in the heart of downtown Rochester, and 10 neighborhood branches located throughout the city. The Central Library campus is made up of two buildings: the historic Rundel Memorial Library Building, and the newer Bausch & Lomb Public Library Building, built in 1997. Both buildings are located at 115 South Avenue, between Broad and Court Streets.

Follow the button below to learn more about each location including hours, holiday closings, directions, and special programs or collections!


Find a Rochester library near you!

More than you think

Did you know you can check out a fishing pole from the library just like checking out a book? Well, you can! Here’s a few other interesting or unusual things you can borrow from the library:

  • MiFi devices for free internet access at home or on the go
  • Very Important Places (V.I.P.) pass for discounts at area museums and arts organizations
  • Framed art
  • Sewing machines
  • Empire Passes for free admission to hundreds of New York State Parks
  • Arts & Crafts kits
  • Science & Technology kits
  • Toys, puzzles, and games
  • Ukuleles
  • Record players and vinyl records
  • Gardening tool kits

Libraries on the go

If you have a smart phone, you can take the library with you wherever you go through mobile access to ebooks and digital audiobooks, entertainment and educational streaming services, language learning apps, citizenship prep, and more.

At the Rochester Public Library website you can search for materials in the catalog, view your library account, and search for library events. Get a library card and carry knowledge in your pocket!

County-wide access

The Rochester Public Library is a member of the Monroe County Library System, which means any city resident can use any public library in Monroe County. Your key to all of this is a library card. Residents of Monroe County can get a library card free of charge at any library in the county and can use that card at any library to gain access to millions of books, magazines, music CDs, recorded books, DVDs, and much more.

Library Board of Trustees

The Rochester Public Library is governed by a Board of Trustees who are appointed by the City Council. This 11-member group is the formal governing and policy-making body for the library. It is responsible for overseeing the operations of the Central Library and the ten library branches within the City including the establishment of library policies, appointment of the Library Director, development of annual operating and capital budget requests for presentation to the City, and approval of personnel changes, contracts and agreements, claims, and grant applications.

Board members must be City residents, except for one seat reserved for a Trustee from the Monroe County Library System Board, and one seat for a representative from the Reynolds Library Board. If you are interested in volunteering for a position on the board, please contact the Mayor's Office at (585) 428-6140 or the Library Director’s Office at (585) 428-8046

Additional information about the board is available at:  About Us - The Rochester Public Library

Spotlight on Rochester