• About Nantucket Atheneum



The island’s public library is a vital community hub. We are open year-round, 6 days a week, and offer materials and services for all ages that continue to be in high demand throughout the year. In the last year, the Atheneum attracted over 50,000 visits, generated 14,000 educational and cultural program experiences, increased our pre-pandemic library usage by 25%, researched roughly 2,000 questions, and lent 100,000 items over 130,000 times.  Our historic building, which opened in 1847, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and filled with beautiful art and artifacts that celebrate our maritime heritage and the history of Nantucket.


We are Nantucket’s free public library and gathering place, transforming lives with resources and experiences that support lifelong learning for all.


  1. We promote the joy and benefits of reading.
  2. We offer a warm and welcoming place for all community members to gather and  connect.
  3. We protect freedom of information, your privacy, and the right to read.
  4. We make the most of donor support and are committed to our financial health.
  5. We engage on-island and virtual communities of all ages through classes, workshops, and events.
  6. We support our peer community organizations and recognize that working together maximizes our efforts.
  7. We both curate and make history, preparing our community for the future, while preserving and sharing our extraordinary past.
  8. We reach out to the entire community to create an organization that reflects our island’s rich diversity.
  9. We recognize and value the myriad contributions of our dedicated volunteers, who work side by side with us to promote and achieve our mission.
  10. We take care of our hardworking staff who create year-round learning opportunities that empower and inspire.

Shared Responsibility

Both the town and the community share in the financial support of our unique library. The Atheneum receives 25% of its operating revenue from town and state governments, with the remaining 75% provided through individual and foundation donations. Each year, the library sponsors three fundraising events – the Annual Giving Campaign, the Cold Turkey Plunge on Thanksgiving Day, and the summer Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival to raise critical operating revenue.

Committment to Excellence

Ensuring a high standard of excellence, the Nantucket Atheneum is certified by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and is a member of the Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing (CLAMS) network.