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The Mission of Monterey County Free Libraries is to bring ideas, inspiration, information and enjoyment to our community.


Monterey County is a community where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential and pursue happiness.


Our collection includes a variety of formats including books, books in large print, books on tape, books on CDs, DVDs, videos, newspapers, magazines and electronic resources. We have books in Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean, and magazines and videos in Spanish and Vietnamese. All materials are selected in accordance with the Collection Development Policy.

Our Californiana collection, located at the Prunedale Branch, consists of books on the history of Monterey County and California. Historical photographs, pamphlets, papers and maps are located at the Library Administrative Office in Marina. The photographs have been digitally reproduced and copies can be purchased for a fee. The collection can be viewed by appointment only Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Appointments are made according to staff availability. Please call 831-883-7567 to make an appointment or view a sample of the images.

History and Organization

Monterey County Free Libraries (MCFL) was established by the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on August 6, 1912 under the authority of the County Library Law of 1911. Services to the public began in 1913 following the hire of Miss Anne Hadden on September 2, 1913 as the first County Librarian of Monterey County.

Within six months, Anne Hadden opened five library branches, the first in Greenfield. Some early branch collections and reading rooms were in private residences, schools, stores, and in Big Sur at the Post Office.

The library system functions under the legislative direction of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and the administrative direction of the County Administrative Officer. A County Librarian appointed by the County Administrative Officer heads the system. MCFL functions legally as a less-than-countywide, dependent special district. The less-than-countywide designation comes from the fact that the service area does not include the city limits of the cities of Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove and Salinas; all of which operate their own municipal libraries.

MCFL operates seventeen branch libraries, two bookmobiles, a library by mail program, deposit collections in local schools, and a number of special programs, including a literacy program which operates a literacy outreach vehicle focused on family literacy and kindergarten readiness. Free library services are provided to all residents of Monterey County.


Funding for MCFL comes primarily from a share of the property tax collected within its service area. This share is about one cent per dollar collected (as of 1996). Small amounts of additional funding come from the County General Fund, the State of California, from donations and from library fees and fines.  Information on the Monterey County Budget can be found here.

Additional or enhanced services are provided through funding from the Foundation for MCFL. These enhanced services include adult literacy tutoring, after school homework assistance, enhanced library book and material purchasing, technology services for public use and public access to internet, and youth services program support for library staff training and for direct public service.

Statistics Summary System Wide (FY June 1, 2018-July 31, 2019):

Circulation: 496, 215
Visits: 684.329
Reference Questions:  91,549
Number of Programs: 1,646
Program Attendance:  45, 177
Complete Annual State Report Access


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