The George Peabody Library: A Guide to Baltimore’s Hidden Gem

Filled with over 300,000 volumes of books, this part of the Johns Hopkins University is often a favorite.

Established in 1878, the George Peabody Library was funded by American philanthropist and financier after who it is named.

When the library first opened, the wealthy Baltimorean dedicated the first wing to the citizens of Baltimore in appreciation of their kind hospitality. The collection, which is focused on research into the 19th century, is available for use by the general public.

Do keep in mind that only the ground floor is limited to visitor access.

George Peabody Library in Mount Vernon Baltimore Maryland

Table of Contents

George Peabody Library Collection

John Morris was the first librarian at the George Peabody Library, and he created a system where he would list 50,000 books he believed the library needed to acquire no matter the expense or difficulty of retrieving them.

The method proved to be an immense success and was continued by the librarians that followed, resulting in the library having a growing collection of texts in various departments. 

Though the collection is focused on the 19th century, there are over 300,000 works in relation to architecture, art, religion, biography, history, science, geography, and literature.

There are various gems housed in the library such as:

  • 1856 edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass
  • A first edition of Darwin’s Origin of the Species
  • Early 1617 edition of Don Quixote
  • Diderot’s 28-volume Encyclopédie
  • The Nuremberg Chronicle

You’ll also find several first editions by American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe, novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, scholar Herman Melville, and journalist H. L. Mencken.

Visitors should note that the library is non-circulatory, meaning that books can only be read inside of the library.

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George Peabody Library in Baltimore MD

Building and Architecture

It is often said that the interior of the George Peabody Library is magical and looks like it belongs in Hogwarts. It has been recognized as one of the most beautiful libraries in the country by many establishments. 

Designed by Baltimore architect, Edmund G. Lind, the library is fitted with five tiers of black cast-iron balconies surrounded by black and white marble floors and gold-scalloped columns. The frosted atrium-style glass stands sixty-one feet high and brings in so much natural light to the stunning interior.

You can click here to take a 360-degree virtual tour of the stunning interior.

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George Peabody Library in Baltimore MD

Events and Workshops

The George Peabody Library hosts their fair share of events, exhibitions, and workshops throughout the year, some of which is open to the general public. They also have several training facilities for students and teaching staff such as the formatting and submission of electronic theses and dissertations, data services training, and teaching academy training.

Because of its breathtakingly beautiful interior, the George Peabody Library has become a popular place to host private events such as weddings. No decor is needed as the rich interior of the library provides a gorgeous backdrop for your special day. You can book a private event by contacting them at [email protected]

George Peabody Library in Baltimore MD

Hours and Location

The George Peabody Library is located at 17 E. Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore, MD 21202. Visitor access is limited to the ground floor, and you must show government-issued identification as well as proof of vaccination status to enter. Please note that anyone who disrupts the learning environment may be asked to leave.


  • Sunday: 11 AM – 5 PM
  • Monday to Wednesday: 10 AM – 5 PM
  • Thursday: 10 AM – 7 PM
  • Friday and Saturday: Closed
George Peabody Library in Baltimore MD

Getting There

The following transit lines have routes that pass near the George Peabody Library:

  • MDOT MTA Bus Route 51
  • MDOT MTA Bus Route 94
  • MDOT MTA Citylink Silver
  • MDOT MTA Citylink Green
George Peabody Library in Baltimore MD


The Peabody Parking Garage is a two-minute walk from the library and is located at 600-608 St Paul Street, Baltimore, MD 21202. There are several other parking garages in the area as well as a limited amount of metered parking on the surrounding streets.

The George Peabody Library is an architectural and educational treasure and is an immense resource to the students and faculty of Johns Hopkins University as well as the community. The details provided regarding the George Peabody Library were current at the time of writing this article; please contact the library at (667) 208-6715 to confirm details prior to visiting.

George Peabody Library in Baltimore MD

George Peabody FAQ

What is the George Peabody Library?

The George Peabody Library is a research library located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. It is part of the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University and was founded in 1857.

Who was George Peabody?

George Peabody was a wealthy American businessman and philanthropist who lived in the 19th century. He is known for his generosity and support of education, particularly in his hometown of Danvers, Massachusetts, and in London, where he spent much of his later life.

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George Peabody Library in Baltimore MD

What is the architecture of the George Peabody Library like?

The George Peabody Library is housed in a stunning historic building designed in the style of a Venetian palazzo. The library’s interior is characterized by a soaring central atrium with five levels of ornate cast-iron balconies, topped by a skylight.

What collections are available at the George Peabody Library?

The library’s collections focus on 19th-century British and American literature, history, and culture. The library holds over 300,000 volumes, including rare and valuable works such as first editions, manuscripts, and archives.

Who can use the George Peabody Library?

The George Peabody Library is open to the public and welcomes all visitors. However, access to certain materials may be restricted or require advanced notice.

What are the library’s hours?

The library is open to visitors from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm. The library is closed on Sundays and Mondays, as well as on certain holidays.

Is there a fee to visit the George Peabody Library?

Admission to the library is free, but donations are appreciated.

Can I borrow books from the George Peabody Library?

No, the library’s collections are non-circulating, meaning that materials cannot be checked out or borrowed. However, visitors are welcome to use the materials on-site.

Is there a dress code at the George Peabody Library?

No, there is no formal dress code for visitors to the library. However, visitors are asked to dress respectfully and to refrain from bringing food or drink into the library.

Is the George Peabody Library accessible to visitors with disabilities?

Yes, the library is accessible to visitors with disabilities. The building has ramps and elevators, and staff members are available to assist with any needs.

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