Library Branch in the Mall

Q. We’re renovating one of our branches and have been offered space in a mall as a temporary home.  Have other libraries done this?

A.  Yes, there are other library facilities sited in malls, as both temporary and permanent locations.  We do not have solid statistics on how many, but we’ve gathered references to a number of them at the Public Library in Shopping Mall page at the ALA Professional Tips Wiki.

Definitely add your mall branch library to the page if we've missed it! Or let us know about it in a comment below. 

The grand suburban malls and shopping centers first built in the 1960s and 1970s are being repurposed for new uses, as noted by Blair Kamin in the June 21, 2010 entry of his Chicago Tribune Cityscapes Blog, Suburbia revised: Confronting shuttered shopping centers and empty big-boxes, developers try turning malls into Main Streets.

As you think about your new location, you might want to review the library building planning information on our ALA Library Fact Sheet 11 - Building Libraries and Library Additions: A Selected Annotated Bibliography. Of special note is William W. Sannwald's Checklist of Library Building Design Considerations, Fifth Edition which has a section on site selection.



The Onandago County Library-DeWitt branch (New York) is in the Shopping Town mall.  As a patron, I loved using the branch as a drop-off point.  I know it was extremely popular during Christmas shopping season too as a spot to take a break and read the paper.

Martin Regional Library, a branch of the Tulsa City County Library, was housed in a nearby mall during renovations several years ago.

The Camden County Library System also created a mall location during a renovation project several years ago.  The location, named "Shelf Life", was designed to supplement, not replace the branch that was under renovations.  The location was designed as an express branch and featured current fiction, children’s books, and computers, all displayed "bookstore" style.  It was a popular place for story times and programming.

Although triggered by renovations and space needs, Shelf Life was in itself a successful experiment in bringing library services into places outside of the traditional library setting.  We attracted new members who had never been to a library branch, but came to Shelf Life due to it’s location and convenience.  Unfortunately, the section of the mall that housed Shelf Life was demolished when the mall was renovated.  We’d love to try other alternate express branch locations in the future.

The London Public Library in London Ontario has their central branch in the Galleria mall in London.

Even though the Mendenhall Mall isn’t much of a mall, the Valley Branch of the Juneau Public Library, in Juneau, Alaska, is there. I spent many hours there while growing up!

We're the second library to open in the city of Moreno Valley, CA and located in the Town Gate Mall.