Adventures in Reading

Libraries to Love

One-stop learning awaits at these treasuries of books, videos, artwork and more.

May 29, 2018 Published in the June 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

A Little Free Library in use.

Image: Shutterstock


Our local public library systems are a rich resource, and we’ve helpfully provided all of their convenient locations for you here. But did you know we have even more spots where you can drop in to browse and explore—most of them for free? 

Independent Libraries

Longboat Library, 555 Bay Isles Park, Longboat Key, (941) 383-2011. Staffed by volunteers, this cozy little library is open only Nov. 1 through April 30.

Tingley Memorial Library, 111 Second St. N., Bradenton Beach, (941) 779-1208. Also a nonprofit operated by volunteers, with year-round hours Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

College Libraries

Jane Bancroft Cook Library, 5800 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, (941) 487-4305. A joint-use library for University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and New College of Florida, the Cook is also open to the public, especially those interested in academic research. (Apply for guest borrowing privileges.)

Ringling College of Art + Design Alfred R. Goldstein Library, 2700 Bradenton Road, (941) 359-7587. This state-of-the-art new library on the Ringling campus is open 24/7 for students, faculty and staff, but it’s open for certain hours during the school year to the public, too. Books, CDs, DVDs, magazine, video games and more among the offerings here.

State College of Florida Libraries. Locations in Bradenton, (941) 752-5305, Venice, (941) 408-1435 and Lakewood Ranch, (941) 363-7250. Subject matter available includes the humanities, literature, social sciences and more.

Specialized Libraries

Arthur Vining Davis Library & Archives of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, City Island, (941) 388-4441 ext. 333. Open to the public by appointment only, it’s a great resource for exploring marine and environmental science.

The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art Library, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, (941) 359-5700 ext. 2703. Among the largest and most comprehensive art libraries in the Southeast, with holdings of 70,000 items. It’s not a lending library, but is available to the public for research and study, with a reading room that overlooks the museum’s scenic grounds. A book club, Literati, meets here monthly.

Selby Gardens Research Library, 811 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 366-5731 ext. 248. Open by appointment to the public; it specializes in New World tropical and subtropical botany, ecology and horticulture.

There are also historical records libraries in both counties. Plus, Sarasota boasts the Elling Eide Center’s research library for scholars and researchers of Asian studies.

Sarasota County Public Libraries

Elsie Quirk Library, 100 W. Dearborn St., Englewood

Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library, 4143 Woodmere Park Blvd., Venice

Fruitville Library, 100 Coburn Road, Sarasota

Gulf Gate Library, 7112 Curtiss Ave., Sarasota

North Port Library, 13800 S. Tamiami Trail, North Port

North Sarasota Library, 2801 Newtown Blvd., Sarasota

Osprey Library at Historic Spanish Point, 337 N. Tamiami Trail, Osprey

Selby Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota

Shannon Staub Library, 4675 Career Lane, North Port

Venice Library at the Hamilton Building, 260 N. Nokomis Ave., Venice (until new library is ready to open)

Manatee County Public Libraries

Braden River Library, 4915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton

Downtown Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd. W., Bradenton

Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach

Palmetto Library, 923 Sixth St. W., Palmetto

Rocky Bluff Library, 6750 U.S. Highway 301 N., Ellenton

South Manatee Library, 6081 26th St. W., Bradenton

Little Free Libraries

Does your neighborhood have one of these boxes of books available for anyone to use on the “take a book, return a book” honor system? It’s free and convenient, and these little libraries exist in more than a dozen public spots in Sarasota alone, along with some in areas created by residents and businesses. Want to get one started near you? Visit for help.

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