Magazine article Texas Library Journal

Austin Public Library: On the Road to a New Central Library

Magazine article Texas Library Journal

Austin Public Library: On the Road to a New Central Library

Article excerpt

Editor's Note: The ongoing work of building Austin Public Library's New Central Library has been a fascinating study in tenacity, vision, and hard work. For years before its ultimate approval by local voters in the 2006 bond election, library supporters rallied to gain support from the community and local leaders. Once voters approved initial funding for the project, city and library leaders ironed out details on everything from location to additional funding, from architects to service philosophies.

Now under construction, the library project is a source of pride and inspiration for the community. The library staff and the city are working to keep the public informed about the progress of Austin's "library for the future." The information that follows was developed by the City of Austin and Austin Public Library.

The City of Austin recently released the final renderings for the 198,000-square-foot, six-story library that will replace the 110,000-square-foot Faulk Central Library at 800 Guadalupe St. that opened in 1979. The $120 million library project resulted from a voter-approved 2006 bond referendum. Set to open in 2016, it aspires to be an urban destination that is seamlessly integrated with the eclectic local community and the lush natural surroundings.

The New Central Library will be a "library for the future." Austin Public Library leaders worked with library consultant and futurist Joan Frye Williams to develop their own "library for the future" building program which incorporates flexible and blended spaces and focuses on the electronic delivery of information. People from all walks of life - working professionals, retirees, students, artists, teens, families with children and more - will have a niche at the New Central Library.

The facility will incorporate adaptable spaces to accommodate the rapidly accelerating development of technology. Cozy areas for silent reading and study, rooms that can be used for classes and workshops as well as large open expanses for community gatherings and events have been incorporated into the building's design. Customers can read the latest bestseller or get some work done on their laptops while enjoying the fresh air and breathtaking view from the Reading Porches overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake.

Austin is known worldwide for its thriving art, music and film scene. The New Central Library will celebrate these elements of the local culture. It will have a gallery that features local and national artists. There will also be special display areas to honor Austin music and musicians and to highlight the Austin film collection and celebrate Austin's cinematic achievements. A selection of beloved puppets created by the Austin Public Library will also be on permanent display.

The New Central Library seeks to nurture a sense of community. The main Atrium Space adjacent to Shoal Creek will be a landmark public gathering space for the entire district, bringing together the many facets of Austin's rich creative tapestry. Recycled Reads, the Austin Public Library's zero-waste bookstore, will have a retail space on site. There will be a Café integrated with the Library that will provide indoor and outdoor dining. The multi-purpose event forum will host largescale Library and public events adjacent to Shoal Creek and Cesar Chavez Blvd.

Forward-thinking strategies such as demand controlled ventilation, variable air and water flow, day lighting control, extensive use of LEDs and on-site energy production are just some of the ways that the New Central Library will provide for a sustainable future. …

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