History of the Huntsville/Madison County Public Library

The Huntsville Madison County Public Library was founded in 1818, when Alabama was still a part of the Mississippi Territory and it is the oldest continuing library in the state.

The Huntsville/Madison County Public Library was first located in the office of attorney John Nelson Spotswood Jones, in the Boardman Building, which is now a part of HMCPL Carnegie Library 1951Constitution Hall Park. The Library also occupied space in the Green Academy from 1821 until Union soldiers burned the school during the Civil War, and moved to borrowed spaces several times until the Carnegie Library was opened in 1916.

A new building was constructed to accommodate city and county growth, and opened in 1966. The area enjoyed rapid growth with the influx of government employees involved in the development of the space program, including the United States Army and NASA, and the library eventually needed more space as early as 1969. Library officials began planning for a new building in 1983.

The current facility's main branch, sometimes referred to as "Fort Book" for its fortress-like appearance, opened on Monroe Street in April 1987 and serves as the headquarters for the Huntsville Madison County Public Library System. The building contains 123,000 square feet, has a seating capacity of 930 and contains over 530,000 volumes, with administrative offices located on the third floor.HMCPL Fountain Circle 1966

Other locations in the County include full service outlets in Madison and Bailey Cove in southeast Huntsville. Smaller branches are located throughout Huntsville, as well as  in Hazel Green, Gurley, Monrovia, New Hope, and Triana.


The Huntsville Madison County Public Library received a federal grant from the Library Services and Technology Act in 2004 specifically to digitize photographs from the Library's Archives for inclusion in the Alabama Mosaic Project.


 Watch this video about the history of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, or this video of patrons sharing their library stories.