Library history

Our story dates back to the late 19th century when Col. Charles McClung McGhee gave $50,000 as a memorial to his beloved daughter, May Lawson McGhee.
On October 28, 1886, the Lawson McGhee Library opened its doors on the corner of today's 100 block of Gay Street and Summit Hill Avenue. As the oldest, continuously operating public library in the state of Tennessee, Knox County Public Library has a proud tradition of innovation - from offering regional library service to desegregation and online services. This video by Douglas Mills and narrated by Bill Landry tells our story.