Everything’s bigger in Texas, and with the grand opening of the new Austin Central Library, the proof is in the pages.
Reading rooms overlooking Lady Bird Lake, a rooftop garden and a technology petting zoo, where visitors can interact with 3-D printers and other innovative technologies, are some of the library’s newest upgrades. Open to readers and visitors on Oct. 28, the library’s family-friendly grand-opening event will feature live music and special lectures.
“We moved in all the books from the old library … (and) ordered a lot of new books to add to the collection that already have been delivered to the new library,” said Kanya Lyons, Austin Public Library public information specialist. “We will have more space for physical material in the new building as well as technology.”
The new Central branch will be available for use seven days a week after its opening festivities and will feature a combination of books and technology.
Like Austin Public Library’s other branches, Lyons said the new Central Library will not discriminate against members of the public who might be experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty and will welcome everyone alike.
“Everyone is welcome to come and use our resources,” Lyons said. “We have people from all walks of life who use the library. We have working professionals who come to cohort families with children (and) elderly people who come here to look for a job.”
Additionally, Lyons said the library tries to make an effort to provide necessary resources for visitors depending on their circumstance, such as a program it recently did with social work interns from Texas State University who helped connect homeless individuals with caseworkers and life resources.
Nancy Nicolas, a visitor who attended a preview of the library on Sunday, said in addition to the valuable resources it has available, she looks forward to how this place will become a learning environment for her family. She said she hopes the library will unite the community and future generations.
“I hope it continues to keep my kids humble,” Nicolas said. “I hope it becomes even more of a cultural center so that our kids and the other families that use it continue to be exposed to a wider variety of families, diverse cultures and populations.”
After getting a first look at the library’s features, Nicolas said the new design is more inviting to visitors in comparison to the smaller spaces of the former Faulk Central Library. She said seeing the city invest in a literary project of this magnitude makes her feel proud of both the library and of Austin.
“(It’s great) to have such a nice library in such a nice location that reflects on the priorities of the city and the values that we share,” Nicolas said.
As an Austinite who grew up visiting Faulk Central Library, Betsey Culliton said she’s excited to visit with her own family now and experience the ways it could bring together today’s community.
“When I was a kid I would go with my mom down to Central and hang out there all day on the weekends (to) do research for middle school projects,” Culliton said. “To have a touchstone like that in the community is fantastic.”
During a Sunday preview of the library for media and some members of the public, Lyons said she was happy to see adults and children alike enjoying the amenities.
“The members of the public with their families were just giddy, taking photos and very excited to use this landmark resource that is really here for the people of Austin,” Lyons said.