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The Central Library Reopened One Year Ago

December 9, 2013 Downtown, Education, Featured 3 Comments

One  year ago our central library reopened after receiving a much-needed renovation:

The library closed almost three years ago for a $70-million renovation. The results of that work are now open to the public, and the 190,000-square-foot building is the most gorgeous — and usable — library I have ever seen.

The 1912 Beaux Arts building, which takes a full city block, was originally designed by Cass Gilbert, who also designed the U.S. Supreme Court. Andrew Carnegie provided the seed money — part of his campaign to build 1,600 libraries in America — and taxpayers provided the rest. (Washington Post)

The results were impressive, readers thought the library renovation was a good investment.

Main facade of the Central Library
Main facade of the Central Library
To my knowledge, the planned cafe space doesn't have an operator.
To my knowledge, the planned cafe space doesn’t have an operator.

I haven’t spent as much time in the library as I thought I would, but I’m still impressed by the exterior lighting as I pass by it several nights per week. I need to see if anyone is operating the cafe inside, that would get me in the door more often. My fiancee is an avid reader, he’s used the library far more than I have.  In June I posted how the Central Library after hours book return is for motorists, not pedestrians.

What has been your experience over the last year?

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Only been down once, but thought that it was a very well done project. My only big complaint involves signage and circulation on the upper floors – the new elevators on the north side don’t provide public access to the collections on the third floor in the original part of the building, and the directories don’t offer much help (although the staff is very helpful).

  2. Eric5434 says:

    “which takes a full city block” – it actually takes about half a block, the rest is landscaping. It’s nice looking, but hardly an urban building.

  3. backprop says:

    Overall the reconstruction was a good investment. There are some warts though.

    Some of the whiz-bang additions are already dated. The “collaboration area” (I don’t know what it’s really called) with the low-res video displays embedded in the tables, are basically useless. It’s all flash and no function. Even on opening day the staff didn’t have any idea how it would work from a practical sense. They’re buggy and hard to use.

    There is a lot of incandescent lighting. Shouldn’t such a huge builldout have LED technology?

    Catalog terminals are incredibly difficult to use while standing. The keyboard is at a level that those in wheelchairs can use, but the monitors are up at the six foot level. Using the mouse and keyboard requires a standing person to hunch and lean while looking upward. Really just a bizarre setup. No doubt they spend a lot of money on those units.


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