Partly inspired by the Barrière Saint-Martin (Rotonde de la Villette) by Claude Nicolas Ledoux, Asplund abandoned earlier ideas for a dome in favour of a rotunda whose tall cylinder gives the exterior some monumentality. In the course of its planning, he reduced elements of the classical order to their most abstract geometrical forms, for the most part eliminating architectural decor. Stockholm Public Library was Sweden's first public library to apply the principle of open shelves where visitors could access books without the need to ask library staff for assistance, a concept Asplund studied in the United States during the construction of the library. All the furnishings in all the rooms were designed for their specific positions and purposes.
Officially opened on 31 March 1928 in the presence of Prince Eugen, due to financial constraints the library was still missing its west wing which was only added in 1932 to complete the approximately square base around the rotunda of the main reading room. Stockholm Public Library is one of Asplund's most important works and illustrates his gradual shift from classicism to functionalism.