About the Manatee County Public Library

Our mission: Nurture imagination, promote lifelong learning, and enrich the community


Our vision: To empower, encourage and inspire by being the essential center of the community.


The Manatee County Public Library System, a division of the Manatee County Neighborhood Services Department, proudly serves our patrons and community with six locations, online resources, and outreach services. MCPL is the winner of the 2013 Florida Library Association Library Innovation Award and the Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award.


Welcome, and please let us know how we can help. 


2016 Annual Report Summary



2017 Librarian of the Year (Florida Library Association) - Ava Ehde, Library Services Manager


2017 Friends, Foundation & Board Award (Florida Library Association) - Friends of the Rocky Bluff Library's Biannual Newsletter


2016 Library of the Year- Florida Library Association

in recognition of the Manatee County Public Library System for the outstanding service it provides to the community


2016 Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award- Florida Library Association

in recognition of Teen Recycled Fashion Show


2016 Lifetime Achievement Award- Florida Library Association

in recognition of Kevin Beach, for a long-standing, distinguished record of professional
achievements and accomplishments.


2016 Outstanding Friends Member- Florida Library Association

in recognition of the outstanding service of Doris Pope, president of the Friends of the Rocky Bluff Library


2015 Keep Manatee Beautiful Recycling Award- Government Category

in recognition of the Recycled Dreams Teen Fashion Show of Recycled Materials


2014 Libraries Change People's Lives Award- Florida Library Association

in recognition of expanded Hispanic Services 


2013 Library Innovation Award- Florida Library Association

in recognition of expanded services, programs, and activities focusing on community needs


2013 Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award- Florida Library Association

in recognition of Mana-Con Comics Convention


Brief History of the Manatee County Public Library

Early History:

  • 1898- Mrs. Julia Fuller’s millinery store carries some rental books
  • Soon moved to Miss America Sudbury’s store
  • 1904- Village Improvement Association starts a library committee and Dr. J.C. Pelot donates a lot at 12th St. West and 6th Avenue West
  • 1907- Mrs. T. J. Bachman loans $500 for small library construction 

Palmetto Carnegie Library:

  • 1914- $10,000 is given by the Carnegie Foundation to build the first Carnegie library in the area. 

Bradenton Carnegie Library:

  • 1918- Bradenton Carnegie Library opens on 15th Street West
  • 1956-  Addition to Bradenton Carnegie Library building
  • Served as first headquarters for first bookmobile and County Library System 

County Library System:

  • 1963- plan approved for countywide system with cities of Bradenton and Palmetto joining with Manatee County
  • 1964- Mrs. Catherine Ramsey, the first county library director, seeks federal grants for bookmobile and construction of branch libraries
  • 1965- Bookmobile service begins
  • 1966-1969- South Manatee Branch Library and soon Island Branch Library storefront branches open
  • Offices moved to Perrine Plaza on Old Main Street
  • SCORE Senior Citizen’s Library Branch on Old Main Street
  • Changes over time involved county administration and organization; as the library system moved from Recreation Services, to Information Services, and finally to Neighborhood Services in 2009.
  • Reciprocal Borrowing began between Manatee and Sarasota counties in early 2000. Later expanded to over 20 counties. 
  • 2013- the library wins the Innovation Award and the Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award from the Florida Library Association.

Central Library:

  • Early 1970s- idea proposed for larger centrally-located building to bring together scattered offices, Bradenton Carnegie Collection, SCORE, and Talking Books from Palmetto
  • April 24, 1978- the Central Library opens to the public. 
  • SCORE’s large print, records and art prints incorporated into the first floor collections.
  • February 1991- a limited Government Documents Depository Collection began.
  • A 2001-model Bookmobile, replacing smaller, earlier vehicles, served until 2010.
  • Central’s interior repainted, handicapped restrooms added and new carpet installed in 2009. The separate Teen reading area was reorganized. The Circulation Department’s desk was entirely remodeled in 2008.
  • In the Children’s Room, a 2010 renovation included a new paint job, shelving and program room, as well as a newly rebuilt, more centrally located reference desk.
  • The Central Library was renovated in early 2015. The renovation was prompted by the construction of a new energy-saving chiller plant in downtown Bradenton, the library was the first building to connect to it. Other improvements included new ductwork, fire alarms, ceilings, updated Wifi and charging stations, a new teen area and creative lab, a mobile demo kitchen, new youth and information desks, new study rooms and Business Incubation Center.

Elizabeth Eaton Florida History Room:

  • Designed for Florida and local history books, maps, magazines and microfilm, with file cabinets and the Historical Society’s archival negative collection
  • 1981- Genealogy collection moved out of the room to its own special section in front of the Eaton Room
  • 2002- Historical Society turns copyright of their archival negatives over to Library System and USF Digital Collections begins digitizing the 32,300 negatives for cataloging and uploading to the internet, the beginning of the Historic Image Digital Collection.
  • 2013- Historic Image Digital Collection is no longer hosted by USF, and the Library Foundation funds the transfer of images to Content DM digital collection management software.
  • 2015- the Eaton Room was moved to another space and features local history materials, unique objects and rotating exhibits of local historical interest.


  • 1990- books and other items were cataloged via a small OCLC terminal.
  • 1992- a stand-alone, text-only computer was linked to the Bradenton Herald newspaper, with access to its index software.
  • 1994- one public computer was available for word processing and educational software.
  • 1996- the first online catalog computers were installed for staff. They replaced the large wooden card catalogs. A few terminals were soon added for public use.
  • February 7, 2000- a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation placed twelve Windows-based PCs in the 2nd Floor Computer Lab.
  • 2007- in cooperation with the Manatee Literacy Council, a special Literacy Computer was installed at Central and at each branch. This included Rosetta Stone software.
  • 2008/2009- a PC reserving and print management system was installed in all libraries. Many more PCs were installed at Central Library
  • 2009- StarBoard interactive whiteboards were installed in all locations’ meeting rooms for use by staff and the public. They were funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
  • 2010- Extended use PCs for special tasks, such as job search and social services, were installed at all locations, and were funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
  • 2012- Laptops, iPads,  and eReaders were purchased with Knight Foundation funds to support staff training, and technology programming for the public.
  • 2015- the entire Wifi system was updated, equipment added to the new creative lab and new Business Incubation Center.