When does a library become a tourist attraction? When it’s the new Central Library in Austin. Opened in 2017, Austin Central Library at 710 West César Chávez Street calls itself a library for the future and the city’s front porch. It also entices with the phrase “more than books”. All 3 were correct and obvious as soon as I saw the building and its interior.
Leandra immediately gave Ruth and me a map that seriously helped us explore and told us about her favorite place, a mostly undiscovered hallway and door on the 5th floor that gives anyone who enters a terrific view of the atrium. We would never have found it on our own. We began at the top on the 6th floor.
The 5th and 6th levels contain this library’s nonfiction collection. Its total holdings exceed half a million books. Also on 6 is a must-see roof garden that attracts butterflies and includes a Texas Live Oak Tree; and because this is “the first LEED Platinum certified project in the City’s portfolio” according to a Green Building Tour pamphlet, you see the largest rooftop solar installation in the downtown that this library is adjacent to.
In addition to a continuation of its non-fiction books, the 5th floor has an impressive media collection and that spectacular look-down into this building’s 6 story, sunlight using atrium. It also affords the best view of CAW, a very large red sculpture that looks like, but isn’t, a clock. There are more sculptures and art works throughout this building.
the 4th floor is about fiction books, reading rooms, magazines, and special collections. There are people quietly on computers, personal and the library’s, throughout. Digital magazines, movies, and music abound on 4.
Floor 3 continues the administrative staff area that begins on 4, and is otherwise devoted to children, tweens, and teens. Ruth loved the puppets everywhere and I loved this library’s working 3-D printer that is accompanied by examples of what it can create. We both loved the many quotes that are appropriate to a great library, like Abraham Lincoln’s comment, “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I haven’t read.”
What makes level 2 exceptional is an excellent restaurant named Cookbook, more shared learning rooms, a gift shop, a gallery, and a well-used outside entrance. Cookbook has lots of examples of them and honors the career chefs whose recipes have shaped this fine eating places’ menu.
the 1st floor has a special events center and stadium-seating demonstration area and another entrance that connects this building to the urban trails adjacent to Lady Bird Lake.
There is reasonable underground parking for visitors.