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50+ Public Libraries in Orange County

50+ Public Libraries in Orange County

We are so lucky to have so many public libraries in Orange County that we could visit a new one each week for an entire YEAR!

Did you know you can visit any public library? Not just the branch closest to your home!

OC Public Libraries (OCPL) is the name of the biggest library system in Orange County with over 30 branches all spread out all over the county. Your OCPL library card will work at any of them. It is very convenient because you can check out books from one OCPL library branch and return them to another OCPL library branch.

And there are even MORE public library systems with more branches (where your OCPL card will NOT work to check out books, but you can still visit and read books at the library). In many cases, you can get a library card and check out books, even if you don’t live in that city.

For instance, we have a library card for the Yorba Linda Public Library and City of Orange Public Libraries systems and can check out books at both libraries when we actually live closer to Irvine. Just make sure you are eligible and don’t have to pay a fee before you go through the trouble of applying.

We especially like visiting Friends of the Library bookstores to find affordable reading treasures to bring home. Used children’s books are often $1 or under.

How many libraries are in Orange County?

There are 58 libraries in Orange County with the majority of the library system centered in the OC Public Libraries branches (32 branches) along with various other libraries in the county (26 branches). I’ve also included Cerritos Library in this list because although it’s not inside Orange County, it’s very close to many north OC cities.

  • OC Public Libraries (32 branches + Mobile Library)
  • Newport Beach Public Library (1 main library + 3 branches)
  • Yorba Linda Public Library (1 main library)
  • Anaheim Public Libraries (1 main library + 6 branches + Mobile Library + STEAM Adventures)
  • Mission Viejo Library (1 main library)
  • City of Orange Libraries (1 main library + 2 branches)
  • Placentia Library District (1 main library)
  • Buena Park Library District (1 main library)
  • Santa Ana Public Library (1 main library + 1 branch)
  • Huntington Beach Public Library (1 main library + 4 branches)
  • Fullerton Library (1 main branch)
  • Cerritos Library (1 main branch) – in LA County, but near north OC

In the next section, I’ll get a little more detailed about what you might find at some of the library systems you might be visiting.

Library Locations in Orange County

OC Public Libraries (32 branches)

  • These libraries are scattered throughout the county and most have children’s sections to enjoy

Newport Beach Public Library (1 main library + 3 branches)

  • This massive main library is located near Fashion Island
  • Mariner’s Branch is another popular location, as well as the newer one in Corona del Mar

Yorba Linda Public Library (1 main library)

  • One of the newest state-of-the-art libraries in the county with inviting indoor and outdoor spaces

Anaheim Public Libraries (1 main library + 6 branches)

  • Central Library features a playground and Library of Things
  • Euclid Branch has a fairy woodland in the Children’s section

Mission Viejo Library (1 main library)

  • Tucked into a central location inside Mission Viejo surrounded by shops, parks, and restaurants

City of Orange Libraries (1 main library + 2 branches)

  • Main library is very near Old Towne with a huge children’s section and nod to our OC agricultural past

Placentia Library District (1 main library)

Buena Park Library District (1 main library)

Santa Ana Public Library (1 main library + 1 branch + Santa Ana Knowledge Mobile)

  • The main library has a relatively new gated playground on its grounds
  • A new outdoor library is slated to open at Jerome Park
  • Santa Ana Knowledge Mobile has a monthly schedule of stops at schools and parks around the city

Huntington Beach Public Library (1 main library + 4 branches)

  • The main library in Huntington Beach Central Park wins awards for best storytimes at its Children’s Library with its whimsical boat design and playful reading areas for families

Fullerton Library (1 main branch)

  • This is another newer library on the list and it even has a Library Cafe on site serving smoothies & coffee/tea drinks and even full breakfasts and lunches

Cerritos Library (1 main branch) – in LA County, but near north OC

  • This one is an Instagram darling garnering tons of posts featuring the lighthouse, rocket ship, aquarium and starry skies on the ceiling
  • It is the one library on my list that charges a pretty hefty fee ($150/year) to be able to check out books if you don’t meet their eligibility requirements

Can I drop off checked out library books at any Orange County library?

I only know this to be true for OC Public Libraries system. You can drop off library books at any OCPL branch because they are in the SAME library system. During the summer, our family often visits one library one week and then the next week we pick a new-to-us library branch in the same OCPL system to drop off our books. It’s a great way to experience different children’s sections and collections of books. When in doubt, return to the library where you checked it out.

Which Orange County libraries have a Library of Things?

Some Orange County libraries go far beyond checking out books. These are some of the toys, games, and experiences you can expect ranging from makerspaces to checking out musical instruments.

How to check out a CA State Parks Library Pass

All you need is a library card to check out the CA State Parks Library Pass. It is a parking pass that will get you into most CA State Parks in Orange County during the time you have it checked out. These passes are often unavailable for immediate access because they are in such demand, but that’s okay. Just sign up to put one on hold and then wait. All you need is your library card and a little patience.

Please be a kind and empathetic to make sure everyone can enjoy access to this pass:

  • Try to stick to your local library branch for these! This makes sure they remain available where needed.
  • If you can afford to pay the entrance fee, it would be nice for you to pay that fee that so that others in need will have easier access to the pass. Read my post about How to Buy a CA State Parks Annual Pass.

And here’s my post on where to go once you check out your CA State Parks Library Pass.

Here are the links for where to find the passes at your local library to get you into these scenic state parks:

Which public libraries in Orange County have Friends of the Library Bookstores?

We LOVE every “Friends” bookstore we visit. We donate books often and always have a great experience talking to the volunteers who run these nonprofits. Money spent on books goes back to supporting the libraries and their programs. The ones below without links don’t have their own website or are just inside the library they serve. If you want to support the Friends even more, you can often become a member.

If you have an avid reader, you will save tons of $ on books in combination with checking them out from the library. They are also great for adults who like to read new hardcovers, because they are often available at these stores a few weeks after they are released (after a patron reads and donates it).

Be Aware: Since they are run by volunteers the hours and days open vary and are even sometimes closed when you think they should be open. Some only accept cash and checks. We always save our $1 and $5 bills to spend at the library.

How to pair your public library trip with a park on the map

I’ve made it super easy to pair up libraries with parks on my Playground Map. The WHITE markers are libraries (all 50+ of them) and the darker BLUE markers are parks (over 300+ of the best ones in OC).

I highly encourage you to pair up some library exploration with outdoor play! Maybe even take those books and read them outside at the park?

Just click on those markers to see links to blog posts about parks and on the library markers you’ll get official websites for the libraries. You can also exclude everything else on the map to ONLY see the WHITE library markers by checking/unchecking the boxes at the bottom of the map.