by: Samantha Branson
After months of anticipation, the Austin Central Library opened and people are flocking to check it out. The library cost $125 million to build, $90 million of which was raised through bonds from Austin residents.
The library is over 20,000 square feet and 6 floors. The first floor houses a special events center and outdoor amphitheater. Some upcoming events include a romance book club and writing workshops for teens and adults.
The second floor is where the main entrance is and has a restaurant, gallery and the Recycled Reads gift shop. The restaurant is called “Cookbook” and is brought to us by the same people that own Easy Tiger. The menu will be ever evolving and change depending on cookbooks found in the library and touring authors visiting. There is also a bar that hosts local beer and wines as well as a coffee shop with espresso and tea. It isn’t quite open yet but is cited to open soon. Food and drinks will not be allowed above the second floor. Bottled water only throughout the library.
The third floor is where to take the kids. It hosts the children’s section and the teen fiction section. Kids can browse rows of their favorite books on shorter shelves so they can reach or catch a puppet show. There is plenty of pint-sized seating for the little ones, as well as a wrap-around, enclosed outdoor terrace. The library will also host regular events like story time for the kids.
On the fourth floor, you will find the fiction section as well as the periodicals. There is also a large wrap around porch and an inside reading room so you can relax and read. There are also computers and a laptop checkout station with 150 laptops available for use.
The fifth floor features the non-fiction section, reference materials and a Spanish and world languages section. There is also a magazine and graphic novels section as well as a “Technology Petting Zoo.” This area allows people to test out different devices they are considering buying. This includes a Makerbot 3D printer.
The sixth floor features more non-fiction sections, a reading atrium and a rooftop garden. The garden is a large wrap around terrace offering gorgeous views of the city. It’s the perfect place to study, read or enjoy a cup of coffee.
The library also has its own underground parking garage. Compared to other big cities in Texas, parking in Austin is expensive. In Dallas or San Antonio the most you would pay for parking at their libraries for a day is $5. But in Austin, a day of parking is $30. There is also street parking available at the standard rate in Austin within walking distance to the library.
Throughout the library, you will find self-checkout kiosks where you can simply swipe your library card and check out books. There are also 50 big screen displays in the library that will mirror a plugged-in device, perfect for presentations. The terraces around the library are shaded using solar panels to create energy reserves for the library.
Needless to say, this library is something Austinites can be proud of. The library was built with growth in mind and reflects the young, tech savvy population of one million Austinites that will utilize it for years to come.
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