According to English grammar, when library is a very specific building capitalize the full name of the library. Therefore, I know that when I am referring to Morgan State University Library or Coppin State University Library I capitalize the full name of the library with 'Library' capitalized.

But what if I am referring to branches of the Baltimore County Public Library like Pikesville library or Woodlawn library—do I capitalize 'library' as part of the proper noun or is 'library' a common noun? I am having difficulty knowing if 'library' is part the proper noun or not. If library is part of the proper noun, I capitalize it. If it is not, then I would lowercase 'library'. How can I tell if all the words are part of a specific building or is a part of the name or not with any set of words?

1 Answer 1


Both are possible.

In the particular case, I can find that the name of that particular building is "Pikesville Branch Library" As that is the name of the institution, it is a proper noun and is capitalised. It would be very reasonable to refer to this as "Pikesville Library" as a shortened form of the name.

But you can also use the common noun. "The library in Pikesville" or "the Pikesville library" In this case, it happens that the common noun is exactly the same as the proper noun. It is not always the case. It is possible that the branch library is named after a famous person. It could be that the Pikesville library is renamed "Thurgood Marshall Library". Then the proper name is not the same as a common noun. If it was renamed, you would not write "Pikesville Library", because that is not its name.

So you should use a capital letter when the word "library" is part of the proper name, and not when you are not using the name. However, most native speakers are very tolerant on this kind of capitalisation. So don't worry too much about getting it wrong.

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