Downtown Library

Downtown Library

Seattle’s downtown public library branch had long wandered without a fixed home, until the Rem Koolhaas designed Central Library was built in 2004. The glass and steel building stands out in downtown Seattle with its striking modern architecture. The building was designed not only to be a fabulous library, but also to be a welcoming and inviting place for all to enter. This feature makes it a great tourist attraction both from the outside, where passer-bys can be awed by the steel and glass “floating platforms,” and from the inside, an added benefit for the rainy fall days that some tourists might run into in Seattle.

The new Central Library building was built thanks to a bond called “Libraries for All” that passed to help Seattle spend $196 million dollars on new facilities. The eleven-story building holds over a million materials in it, with room for more and the ability to keep it all organized through a high-tech book handling system.

The inside was created with the goal to be inviting and to fight the notion that libraries are stuffy places. This shows in the various design elements, such as the unbroken spiral of Dewey Decimal shelves, as well as in the furnishing, like in the comfortable “living room”. The library is staffed to help out, full of help desks and a ‘Mixing Chamber’ to assist patrons. Those looking for research or facilities of the electronic type will encounter the library’s more than 400 computers available for public use.

As the library has gained a reputation not only as a great resource, but also as an attraction for tourists and locals, they have started running multiple types of tours. On the library’s website you can find listings for library resource or architectural tours. In addition, the library offers a number of classes from computer basics, to English as a Second Language. The site also lists a variety of children’s and adults’ musical and literary events.