October 31, 2017

Austin celebrates the grand opening of its new central library


This past Saturday in Austin, Texas, community members and public officials celebrated having made good on something they’d promised each other some four years earlier: to build, in the words of Democratic Mayor Steve Adler, “the best library in the world.”

“Well, you got it,” Adler said at the library’s grand opening, according to reporting by Taylor Goldenstein in the Austin American-Statesman. “The only thing that it needs [now] is you. It’s finally time to use this space to create new worlds of your own.”

The new Central Library, located at 710 Cesar Chavez St, weighs in at 200,000 square feet (twice the size of the system’s prior flagship, the John Henry Faulk Central Library) and boasts a number of exciting amenities, including a laptop rental vending machine, a “thirty-seven-foot grackle pendulum clock,” a top-floor reading porch (!!!), and ample bike parking in a dedicated garage. It reportedly cost $125 million. The people of Austin, Goldenstein reports, couldn’t be happier, with smiles and excitement all around, from patrons of all ages.

Hudson Sanders, the nine-year-old son of John and Tiffany Sanders, told Goldenstein, “It’s not just for older people or littler people. It’s for everybody. It’s big, it has lots of books, and it’s fun.”

Peggy Browning, a regular patron of John Henry Faulk, had been planning her visit since workers first broke ground nearly half a decade ago. “This is a huge improvement,” Browning told Goldenstein. Praising the open layout and the wide array of books and activities, she added, “We are going to come a lot more with this location because this is just phenomenal.”

Altogether, the opening seemed like a rousing success. That said, that Saturday night, the front windows were defaced with “crude graffiti,” according to the Statesman’s Rachel Rice. Roosevelt Weeks, the new library’s director, believes them to have been a random act of defacement.

Perhaps naively, I’m inclined to believe him — I mean, look at this place:

Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.