Buffalo & Erie County Public Library – Downtown Central

1 Lafayette Square

Information Hub (Located outside) – You can pick up your Event Guide & Map, chat with Doors Open Buffalo volunteers, and learn about our partners and sponsors!


Public Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Last Admittance for Guided Tours: 4:30 pm
Photography and Filming Allowed
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Public Restrooms: Yes

Offering: Guided Tours and Exhibits

Visitor Experience: Insider view of this extraordinary building! 20 minute tours offered on the half-hour, led by Library staff, will begin at the Washington Street main entrance and will include an overview of Library services and history, visits to all current exhibits (Children’s literature and Audubon’s Quadrupeds of North America), the Mark Twain Room, and the Grosvenor Room, center for local history/genealogy.

Building Description:

The current Central Library at 1 Lafayette Square opened in 1964. The building was designed by local firm Kideney Architects to house an urban library branch and the centralized collections and functions of today’s county-wide, 37-site Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System. Its unique design is 2 city blocks big and 5 stories tall (2 of the floors are the non-public storage areas for over 2 million items), featuring 57 miles of shelves and the Library’s peerless 40,000 item Rare Books & Special Collections. Display areas for collection-based exhibits, office spaces for library staff, community meeting rooms, a computer training lab, county-wide Bookmobile service, a recently renovated 300 seat Auditorium, and the Launch Pad MakerSpace are based here.

This Library, owned by Erie County, replaces an earlier one (in service 1887-1963) on this highly visible site in the central city. The earlier building (once the site of Erie County’s first courthouse) offered extensive services to a rapidly growing city and was the first cultural center in Buffalo, housing the collections that originated today’s Buffalo Museum of Science, Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Buffalo History Museum.

In similar fashion, today the Central Library is the home of the Buffalo Presidential Center, Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY, Young Audiences of WNY, Restoration Services, and Literacy Buffalo Niagara, all of which serve the community through various programs, workshops, classes, and exhibits.

The Central Library today continues its commitment to provide a wide variety of free and accessible services, programs and resources to 300,000 visitors annually. Its resources extend outdoors seasonally to Buffalo’s Reading Park on the Library’s front lawn.