On Wednesday, September 21st, the American Library Association/Texas Library Association (ALA/TLA) UT Student Chapter hosted the first installment of the Redesigning Libraries: Making Spaces for the Future speaker series. This presentation gave students a chance to learn about the New Central Library and Austin Public Library’s vision for libraries in the 21st century. Giving the presentation was APL’s Facilities Process Manager, John Gillum, who was passionate about library design, knowledgeable, and beyond funny. Big shout out to John! We couldn’t have asked for a better speaker to kick off our speaker series.
Keep reading for highlights from the presentation.
Talk of building a new central library began 20 years ago as Faulk Central Library grew increasingly inadequate with Austin’s booming population. In 2006, Austin voters approved Bond Proposition 6 to allocate funds to build a new library, and with the approval of City Council, planning began in earnest in late 2010. During this time, John traveled across the nation and world to visit model libraries of the future, including OBA in Amsterdam (and several others in The Netherlands), Seattle Public Library, and Salt Lake City Public Library.
His travels revealed several elements of libraries of the future, including:
- Spaces adaptable with multi-purpose uses (e.g. moving walls, shelving on casters)
- Focus on electronic delivery of information
- Sustainable features
- Mixture of both lively and contemplative/quiet spaces
- Collections displayed to encourage discovery (e.g. books face out to showcase cover art)
The project broke ground in May 2013 on the West side of downtown, along the banks of Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek, at 710 W. Cesar Chavez Street. Currently still under construction, the Library is slated to open to the public in spring 2017.
At 198,000 sq. ft. and six public stories with two levels of underground parking and three main entrances, the building is roughly double the size of Faulk Library. Library staff will be available throughout the building rather than behind a stationary desk. The project is expected to acquire the highest possible LEED rating, Platinum, through rooftop solar panels, rainwater harvesting system, and creative design to maximize use of daylight. In order to promote sustainability and encourage “green” transportation, the library will charge for parking in the garage. A bike corral adjacent to the Lance Armstrong Bikeway will provide secure parking for 200 bicycles.
Other innovative features of the library include a demonstration cooking area, complete with a mobile kitchen cart, which can be used by local chef-authors to show how they make their culinary creations; a rooftop butterfly garden with a coffee/snack cart that pays homage to bookmobiles; and an art gallery on the second level that will feature traveling national exhibitions.
Additional facility features can be found on the Austin Public Library Foundation’s website.
The New Central Library will implement state-of-the-art technologies. The fifth floor of the building will be home to a makerspace and self-publishing equipment, including a 3D printer and software for 3D modeling, a laser cutter, and the Expresso Book Machine, which can produce a paperback book in minutes. Patrons will be able to check out laptops (both PC and Mac) and tablets via five kiosks located throughout the building. Dedicated gaming and tech crafting spaces will be located in the teen center. The building will be running Google Fiber for faster internet access and WiFi connectivity.
Thank you again to our speaker, John Gillum, for this presentation. Be on the lookout for additional events from ALA/TLA, including Banned Books Week coming soon!
American Library Association / Texas Library Association – UT Student Chapter
We are the UT Austin student chapter of the American Library Association and the Texas Library Association. The UT ALA/TLA student chapter strives to:
- bring together iSchool students interested in academic, public, and school libraries.
- provide programming on topics of interest and use in various library settings.
- promote participation in ALA and TLA.
The chapter holds events to create networking opportunities, introduce students to professionals in the field of librarianship, and promote educational and professional development opportunities.
If you would like to join ALA and TLA, you can do so here.