What Does Library Coverage Look Like in Similar Cities?

#1: Fremont, California
Fremont CA has a population of 230,000 (making it the 16th largest city in CA).
Fremont has 78 square miles of land, but a good chunk of that is farm area / lowlands (at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay) or hills to the east of the city. Fremont has 4 libraries, but two libraries just outside the city, one in Newark, to the west, and one in Milpitas, to the south, also provide access to citizens of Fremont. (Interestingly Newark is fully enclosed by Fremont. When other communities decided to band together to create Fremont in the 1950s Newark opted out; citizens were concerned it would become an industrial area if incorporated into Fremont).
The part of the city farthest from a library is the south part of Fremont, Warm Springs, which is about 3 miles from a library. This part of the city appears to not be heavily populated. This is an industrial part of the city — Tesla Motors has a large manufacturing site in the south part of Fremont. Still, if you live in Fremont, library access appears to be pretty good – most citizens are within a mile of a library.
Libraries in Alameda County still require masks — regardless of vaccination status. Libraries in Fremont also have varying hours at this time. The Niles library is open just one day a week, while other libraries are open three to five days a week.
#2: Garland, Texas
Garland has 242,035 (as of 2021) residents and covers an area of 57 square miles. Garland has 4 public libraries, the “Central Library” (opened in 1970), “Walnut Creek Branch” (1975, renovated in 1997), “North Garland Branch Library” (1992), and “South Garland Branch Library” (2001). They are named the “Nicholson Memorial Library System”.
“Library service was established in the City of Garland as a result of a tornado that tore a path of destruction through the northwest corner of Garland on May 9, 1927. The tornado claimed fourteen lives in Garland, including Mrs. Missouri Nicholson and her son, the former mayor, S. E. Nicholson.
Seeking to provide a lasting memorial to his mother and brother, W. R. Nicholson of Longview, Texas, purchased a former bank building on the northeast corner of the Garland Square and donated it to the city. In December 1933, the remodeled building reopened and housed both a community center and a 1,200 square foot library. The Library initially operated with volunteers, but later, city funded employees were hired. Shortly after World War II, the Library became a member of the Dallas County Library System.”
As far as library access is concerned, most of Garland is within 1-2 miles of a Garland library. However, there are parts of the city more than 3 but less than 4 miles from a library.
#3: Glendale, Arizona
Glendale Arizona had 248,325 residents, as of the 2020 Census, and covers an area of 65 square miles (in a rather odd shape, see below). The eastern side of the city appears to be much more densely populated than the western side of the city. Glendale is situated directly northwest of Phoenix. The 2008, 2015, and 2023 Super Bowls have been hosted in Glendale AZ.
Glendale has 4 libraries, all beautiful buildings clearly built as libraries. These libraries were constructed:
  • Velma Teague, 1971 (renovated in 2015)
  • New main library, June 1987
  • Foothills, July 1999
  • Heroes Regional, June 2018
Library coverage is sparse in two areas:
1) The area between the Main Library and Foothills library is (at most) 3 miles from a Glendale library.
2) The area surrounding Luke Air Force Base, on the west side of the city. This area is largely farm area, with the exception of Citrus Park, which appears to be inside Glendale city limits – however Wikipedia says Citrus Park is an unincorporated area of the county with a population of 5,194 residents.
#4: Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk Virginia had a population of 238,005 (2020 census), and covers an area of 53 square miles (land). It is situated in the middle of the Norfolk / Chesapeake, Newport News, Virginia Beach Metro area with a population of 1.7m.
Of the 6 cities I’ve surveyed, Norfolk has the most libraries, by far – 11! I suspect this is largely due to Norfolk VA being an older, east-coast city vs. the other cities I’ve surveyed in Idaho, Washington, California, Texas, and Arizona.
Norfolk classifies the libraries as 3 main anchor libraries and 9 neighborhood branch libraries. (I’m not counting the Sargeant Memorial Genealogical Collection as a separate library as it uses space in the Slover Library)
· Sargeant Memorial Collection
· Barron F Black Franch (1977)
· Blyden Branch (1921)
· Janaf Branch (1966) (Named for the shopping center, named after Joint Army, Navy, Air Force)
· Jordan-Newby Anchor (2018)
· Lafayette Branch (1930)
· Larchmont Branch (1968)
· Little Creek Branch (1967)
· Mary D Pretlow Anchor (2008)
· Park Place Branch (1979, completely renovated 2008)
· Richard A. Tucker Memorial Branch (2021)
· Van Wyck Branch (1990)
· Slover Library Main Anchor (2015)
Library coverage is sparse in just one area – the industrial port area in the northwest part of the city. Otherwise, to reach a library, you’re generally less than a mile away from a library.
The Slover Library, in downtown Norfolk, is a beautiful, open, multi-story, architectural gem. It was recently constructed, in 2015, through a combination of public funds and sizeable private donations.
#5: Scottsdale, Arizona

As of the 2020 census, Scottsdale had a population of 241,361 residents. Scottsdale is certainly the largest city of this group, covering 184 square miles.

Scottsdale has experienced explosive growth, having just 2,000 citizens in 1951 . It is a major tourist hot spot, tied with Atlanta GA for 4th place after New York City, Las Vegas, and Chicago, for AAA Five Diamond resorts and hotels.

Scottsdale AZ has many square miles but most of these square miles are not inhabited. Library coverage is good – the farthest any populated areas are from a library is 3 miles.

Scottsdale Library Branches:

  • Appaloosa Library. Opened 2009, 21k square feet.
  • Arabian Library. Opened 2007. 21k square feet.
  • Civic Center Library. Opened 1968. 103k square feet.
  • Mustang Library. Opened 1987. 32k square feet.


#6: Spokane, Washington

As of the 2020 census, Spokane had a population of 228,989 residents. It covers 69 square miles.

Spokane is 92 miles south of the US Canada border and 18 miles west of the Washington Idaho border. Spokane is home to Gonzaga University. It is situated along the Northern Pacific Railway and Interstate I-90. It is the closest of the cities in this group to Boise. Spokane is home to Hoopfest, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that is the largest of its kind in the world.

Spokane Library Branches:

  • Central. Originally built 1994, reopened after 2 years of renovations in 2022. 117k square feet.
  • Shadle Park. 30k square feet. Reopened in 2021 after renovations.
  • Liberty Park. 12k square feet.
  • The Hive. Opened in 2021. (Doesn’t have books, but is designed as an educational center / meeting center / art studios / event center)
  • Hillyard Library. Located on a middle school campus. 8k square feet.
  • South Hill. Reopened in 2023. 15k square feet.
  • Indian Trail. Remodeled in 2022. 11k square feet.

In November 2018, voters approved a 77 million Spokane Public Library bond measure to remodel 4 existing libraries and build 3 new libraries (2 of these 3 replaced existing libraries and 1 new library was created). The renovation cost of the central library was 33 million.

Spokane has very good library coverage. One area on the north side of the city is almost 4 miles from a library, though this appears to have a much smaller population than West Boise.

https://www.krem.com/article/news/education/renovated-spokane-shadle-park-and-new-liberty-park-libraries-to-reopen-in-november/293-3945f65d-50ee-4673-add6-9852fa2ded94 https://www.spokanelibrary.org/ http://future.spokanelibrary.org/