centrallibrary_exterior-interiorStanding at 1000 Fourth Avenue in downtown Seattle, Central Library, our largest city library, resembles a modern prism of glass and steel. Opened in 2004, the steel construction is meant to provide protection during an earthquake, and 10,000 glass panels reflect light outside, insulated to keep some of the weather from seeping in. Although some may consider the library’s architecture striking, the features and programs offered within the walls of the library are equally so.

The 11-level structure was conceived by principal architects Rem Koolhass, a Dutch designer with the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) and Joshua Prince-Ramus, a founding parting of OMA New York, the latter originally from Seattle. In 2005, the year after it opened, this building was voted #108 on American Institute of Architects’ list of “America’s 150 favorite structures in the United States” and a national honor award from AIA for architecture. It has also received a Platinum Award for Innovation & Engineering from the American Council of Engineering Companies (AEC) of WA.

overhead

Central Library is 362,987 square feet and also has 143-spot underground parking which requires paying a parking fee, racks to park bicycles, and metro bus service within walking distance. An elevator system, as well as stairs, whisks visitors from the bottom floor to the top.

stacks

Interesting things to try that are unique to
Central Library: 

  • Choose from the 1,283,420 items in their complete collection (as of 2015)
  • Reserve a practice room (one hour daily limit) and play music on a digital keyboard, choosing from the library’s extensive music collection (at Book Spirals 8)
  • Access one of the library’s 400 computers (90 minutes limit)
  • Attend a concert or lecture in their auditorium
  • Lounge in the “Living Room”, a space on the 3rd floor that invites reading
  • Visit a traveling exhibition (such as Shakespeare’s First Folio which was on display last year)
  • Sip a cup of espresso while nibbling on your baked good, sandwich, or chocolate at the Chocolati Cafe Cart (Level 3)
  • Peruse the gift shop
  • Find an ancestor or look up a history through the Special Collections. The Special Collections contain:
    • oral history
    • state document depository
    • aviation history
    • genealogy records
    • historical documents about Seattle
    • written materials, 30,000+ photos, original artwork (2D and 3D), and maps
  • Pluck a book from the Books Spiral that rises & winds straight up through 4 stories
  • Study the public art inside and outside the library
  • Take a guided tour or a self-guided one by typing in reference #s on your cell phone at different, designated points throughout Central library
childresources
Extensive Child Resources, Central Library
auditorium
Auditorium, Central Library

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting things to try at most Seattle Public Library locations (besides reading, of course):

  • Learn a new language (book, audio, or digital)
  • Learn new Adobe (InDesign, Illustrator, PhotoShop) and Microsoft Office (MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint) software
  • Loan a Wi-Fi Hotspot to take home with you
  • Print documents from your own wireless device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) using a Wi-Fi connection while at the library
  • Read a digital magazine through Zinio, a digital newsstand
  • Participate in the Library-to-Business program
  • Listen to an established writer through different classes and lecture series, such as SeattleWrites, then start your own book
  • Publish your own book through the SELF-e platform
  • Check out a wide variety of movies, from box office hits to lesser-known works

Interesting note: The amount the library has been used by guests is twice the volume originally predicted. Visit the Seattle Public Library website to find out more about programs on their Calendar of Events at Central Library and other locations.

upperfloor

All photos courtesy of The Seattle Public Library

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