San Antonio Public Library
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The San Antonio Public Library is a collection of a Central Library and 24 branch libraries (as of the fall of 2008) that serve the City of San Antonio in the U.S. state of Texas. The library serves other municipalities in the area, including Alamo Heights, Hill Country Village, and Olmos Park.
The Central Library is a 240,000-square-foot (22,000 m2), six-story structure that opened in 1995 in Downtown San Antonio. It is easily recognized by its bright-colored, striking "Mexican Modernist" design. The primary color of the building's exterior is popularly referred to by San Antonians as "Enchilada Red."
The architect for the building was selected by a design competition held by the city in July 1991. The winning design is by renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta in partnership with Sprinkle Robey Architects and Johnson-Dempsey & Associates of San Antonio. Unique features of the library include a multi-story, bright yellow atrium and several outdoor plazas with landscaping and fountains intended to be used as outdoor reading rooms. In Legorreta's own words: "I wanted to break the concept that libraries are imposing."
The library was financed through a $28 million bond to build a new Central Library. The bonds were approved by San Antonio voters in 1989. In addition, another $10 million in funding from private sources and the city's general budget helped finance the murals and artwork inside the library, as well as new furniture, equipment, and fixtures.
The centerpiece of the library is a two story glass blown sculpture named "Fiesta Tower". It was created by Dale Chihuly in 2005.
Since its inauguration in May 1995, the new Central Library attracted a great deal of attention in architectural and library circles. After the new facility opened, circulation more than doubled from the previous year. The Central Library currently holds about 580,300 volumes.
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The previous Central Library building at 203 S St. Marys Street was renovated and reopened in 1998. The building, which is located on the River Walk, was renamed the International Center and is primarily used as office space. It houses the Department of International Affairs, San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, Trade Commission of Mexico-BancoMext, Casa Tamaulipas, and Casa Nuevo Leonthe as well as the headquarters for the building's primary tenant, the North American Development Bank.
The original San Antonio Public Library building, which backs up to the Riverwalk at 210 Market Street, served as the main library from 1930 to 1968, and was from 1968 to 2005 the home of the Hertzberg Circus Museum. In 2006, it was leased to the National Western Art Foundation and is undergoing renovation preparatory to housing the Dolph and Janie Briscoe Western Art Museum.
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