The Denver Public Library traces its origins to 1889, when it opened within a room inside Denver High School. Andrew Carnegie funded the library's first building at Civic Center Park, as well as some of its original branch locations. As the city grew, so did the need for a bigger central library. The second building, known to many Denver residents as the “Old Main” library, served the downtown area between 1950 and 1995. That building was replaced with this modern building, completed in 1995 after voters approved a bond project in 1990.


  • The Denver Public Library's Central Library was designed by world-renowned architect Michael Graves.
    The Denver Public Library's Central Library was designed by world-renowned architect Michael Graves.
  • The entryway to the Denver Public Library
    The entryway to the Denver Public Library
  • A reading area within the library
    A reading area within the library

The Denver Public Library traces its origins to 1889, when it opened within a room inside Denver High School. Andrew Carnegie funded the library's first building at Civic Center Park, as well as some of its original branch locations. As the city grew, so did the need for a bigger central library. The second building, known to many Denver residents as the “Old Main” library, served the downtown area between 1950 and 1995. That building was replaced with this modern building, completed in 1995 after voters approved a bond project in 1990.

This new Central Library is 540,000 square feet. It was designed by Michael Graves and the Denver firm of Klipp Colussy Jenks DuBois. New branch sites have been added in recent years with an additional bond. Michael Graves has had projects all over the world. He is widely credited for spearheading multiple design movements in architecture.

Other notable features of the Denver Public Library including a public art sculpture from Mark di Suvero outside the building in a neighboring plaza. The piece, called Lao Tzu, is bright orange, made of steel, and is 30 feet tall and weighs 16 tons. The Denver Summit of the Eight took place in 1997 and featured eight world leaders. They met at the Legacy Table in the Central Library.

The Denver Public Library offers a wide range of resources, classes, events and education for everyone. The Library offers special services to students, businesses, and immigrants, among others. It is the largest library between Chicago and Los Angeles, and serves a million people each year.


Denver Public Library website, accessed May 31, 2016. https://www.denverlibrary.org Michael Graves website, accessed May 31, 2016. www.michaelgraves.com