Alabama: Ben May Main Library, Mobile
Our pick in Alabama — the main branch of the Mobile system — is a true classic, built with Greek design features back in 1928 and now on the National Register of Historic Places. According to AL.com, the city raised the money to build it independently, refusing an offer from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who funded hundreds of libraries across the country. Then, the economy tanked, and this grand new structure was hobbled, like everything else:
For several years during the Great Depression, the first librarian, Emma Harris, and her assistant, Lottie Perry, kept the building open with zero to little funding, often bringing in personal supplies of coal and oil to power and heat the building.
The building was restored and expanded in 2007.