Written by Emily Ogden
If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Austin’s new Central Library, I hope this article is the motivation you need to make your way down to this impressive building located in the heart of our city. While all libraries are undoubtedly a wonderful haven for community members, this place is perhaps incomparably glorious.
All I could think as I explored each of the six floors for the first time was that this library is alive. There is constant motion as people bustle from floor to floor on the grand staircase, browse among the shelves, or search for a place to settle down and study. The already intimate community of this place is evident, from staff members leading kids to the puppet show on floor three, to the live string quartet playing Christmas melodies on floor six.
Central Library was built with a place for everyone in mind. Children and Teens each have their own private areas, and there are various reading rooms for groups to convene. This truly is a library of the future, complete with a “Technology Petting Zoo” that includes a virtual reality console and 3-D printer. Computers by the dozens are on every floor, and a variety of tablets are available for personal use.
Those who would rather hold a book in their hands have nothing to fear, however. As reported in the Austin Chronicle, “the 198,000-square-foot building will house all 300,000 books from the John Henry Faulk Central Library on Guadalupe and have room for another 300K on top of that.” While this means some empty shelf space for now, there is still a wide variety of books, from a special Austin section to adult fiction, that have been meticulously organized and are ready to be opened.
The indoor seating is both notable in quantity and comfort, with tables for groups and more private spaces for individual visitors. However, people looking for a chance to appreciate the outdoors should head to the reading porches on floors three and four, or the rooftop garden on floor six, all of which host a stunning view of Lady Bird Lake and the surrounding area.
Before I made my way back to the parking garage, I got the chance to talk to a staff member named Randy, who has been working for Austin libraries for seventeen years. He couldn’t be happier that the books he has worked with for so long have a new home, commenting that compared to Faulk Central Library’s dark and drab atmosphere, the architecture of this place “has so much open light. People are awe-struck.” As one of those people, I urge you to make your way to this library. Somewhere on those six massive floors is a place where you belong.