A lone visitor looked down from the fifth floor of the Austin Central Library. Below was a modern labyrinth of staircases, polished walkways, stocked bookshelves and comfortable seats—a wonderland to any knowledge prospector and an aesthetically pleasing view to any given spectator.
Along with the rapid advancement of society, many fear the disappearance of seemingly dated public spaces like libraries, however, Austin Central is a prime example of keeping pace with this advancement by means of modification. The library, formerly John Henry Faulk Library, has been transformed to better accommodate the needs of local Austinites, distributing resources which were previously unavailable to its patrons.
Contrastive to the paradigm of the average library, Austin Central revitalizes the nostalgia of densely packed bookcases and a mellow atmosphere with a taste of modernism. The facility offers many resources, from the likes of traditional books, magazines and newspapers to digital information outlets.
The technological needs of patrons has undeniably evolved and developers of the space took note of this, including new elements such as laptops and desktops, touch-screen interactive games and electronic checkout kiosks. There is even a highly innovative “Tech Petting Zoo,” which allows visitors to interact with the latest devices. With these changes, visitors indulge in a more efficient experience.
Light is a significant aspect of Austin Central, as the majority of the space is designed to be engulfed by daylight illumination. With the inclusion of large windows and skylights, natural light enters seamlessly, brightening the interior and simultaneously lifting spirits, perhaps a metaphor for the visitors’ pursuit of knowledge.
The Austin Central library creates a harmonious balance between the academic and public realms, attracting individuals from all walks of life. Whether utilized as a social gathering space, cultural hub, center for creativity or placid place of study, it is useful for university students, academics and regular citizens alike.
This new haven of studying begs the question: Is it making St. Edwards’ Munday Library less relevant? While the new Central library is highly contemporary and attractive, Munday Library exudes the comfort and familiarity of campus life. Austin Central Library and Munday library share similar elements of modern design. Although Munday does not offer elaborate amenities like a rooftop garden, an art gallery, a gift shop or a cafe, it does provide the perpetual quiet that students often seek. Its traditional nature is welcoming and it is only a brief walk away for students, after all.
However, there is nothing like browsing for books while overlooking the Austin city skyline from different angles, a view one can only get at Austin Central Library. Visitors, myself included, cannot help but sigh when the monotonous voice announces that “The library will be closing in 30 minutes.” It is the kind of place many would not mind getting lost in or getting lost in a book within, for a while.