Austin Public Library

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Austin Public Library
Austin public library opened October 28 2017.jpg
Central Library viewed from the south
EstablishedFebruary 1926 (1926-02)
LocationAustin, Texas
Coordinates30°16′17″N 97°44′45″W / 30.27139°N 97.74583°W / 30.27139; -97.74583Coordinates: 30°16′17″N 97°44′45″W / 30.27139°N 97.74583°W / 30.27139; -97.74583

Austin Public Library is a public library system serving Austin, Texas, United States. It is operated by the City of Austin and consists of the Central Library on Cesar Chavez Boulevard (which replaced the old Faulk Central Library in 2017), the Austin History Center, 20 branches and the Recycled Reads bookstore and upcycling facility.[1]


On November 13, 1925, Grace Delano Clark persuaded the Austin Branch of American Association of University Women (AAUW) to initiate a project to establish the Austin Public Library.[2]

AAUW organized a house-to-house campaign to solicit book donations and money for a dedicated building. In February 1926, the Austin Public Library opened at 819 Congress Avenue in a rented room above the office of newspaper Pressler & Ziller. The library held 500 donated volumes, and Grace Delano Clark served as Volunteer Librarian. In December of the same year, Austin's first library building, an 1,800 square feet (170 m2) wood-frame structure, opened at West 9th and Guadalupe Streets.[3]

In 1928, Austin voters approved $150,000 in bonds for a permanent building, and the temporary building was moved to Angelina Street, resurfaced with brick, and opened as the library's first branch, the George Washington Carver Branch. The building is now part of the George Washington Carver Museum, adjacent to the current Carver Branch.[4]

From 1933 until 1951 library services were provided on a racially segregated basis. The small George Washington Carver branch was designated as the facility to serve Blacks. They were not welcome at any other library facility, although they could request library materials to be sent to Carver. William Astor Kirk, a professor at Huston-Tillotson University, challenged this arrangement. By the end of 1951 the segregation policy was ended.[5]

Faulk Central Library

The new, permanent building was to be designed by Austin architect Hugo Kuehne, and construction began in 1932. The building took advantage of local materials and craftsmen. Texas “Cordova” cream limestone was selected to achieve the Italian Renaissance Revival style of the building. Ornamental wrought iron work was created by Fortunat Weigl to enhance the balconies, doors and windows. Peter Mansbendel, a Swiss master woodcarver who immigrated to Texas in 1911, carved much of the interior woodwork. Bubi Jessen and Peter Alidi painted the tracery frescoes on the ceiling of the arched loggia on the north side of the building.[2]

In March 1933, the new building opened at West 9th and Guadalupe. This building served as the main library from 1933 until 1979,[6] when construction of the John Henry Faulk Central Library next door was complete. At that time, the newly formed Austin History Center Association consolidated community support to renovate the old central library building to house the expanding Austin-Travis County Collection.[7] In 1983, the Austin-Travis County Collection formally became the Austin History Center.[8]

Central Library[edit]

View from Central Library rooftop garden.

In 1972, Austin voters passed a $6 million bond for a new central library to be built on an adjacent site at West 8th and Guadalupe. Jessen Associates, founded by Bubi Jessen and Wolf Juessen, designed this central library in the New Formalist style under the direction of architect Fred Day. Construction began in 1976, and the building opened to the public on April 11, 1979. John Henry Faulk, a local writer and free speech advocate who would be the building's namesake, was the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony on August 26, 1979.[9]

The Faulk Central Library was 110,000 square feet (10,000 m2) on five stories (the first three open to the public, with the fourth floor reserved for the administrative offices, and the basement reserved for storage/utilities).

The new central library (opened on October 28th 2017), showing the interior from the 6th floor.

In the spring of 2013, the City of Austin broke ground on a 6-story new central library overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake,[10][11] funded in large part by a bond program approved by Austin voters in 2006.[12] The building is part of the city's extensive redevelopment of the former Seaholm Power Plant site,[13] east of the intersection of Lamar Boulevard and Cesar Chavez Street. It opened to the public on Saturday October 28, 2017. The building was designed by a joint venture of San Antonio-based Lake Flato Architects, known for their energy-efficient and sustainable projects; and Boston-based Shepley Bulfinch, successor to the firm founded by 19th century architect Henry Hobson Richardson.[4] The new central library offers a living rooftop garden, reading porches, an indoor reading room and a bicycle corral, large indoor and outdoor event spaces, a gift shop, an art gallery and a café run by the ELM Restaurant Group.[14]

In April 2018, Austin Public Library hosted their first Kids Block Party. The event encourages families with children to promote learning through play and fosters a love of reading. [15]

Branch Libraries[edit]

In addition to the Central Library and the Austin History Center, the Austin Public Library has 20 branches and a Recycled Reads bookstore and upcycling facility.[16] The APL library system also has mobile libraries – bookmobile buses and a human-powered trike and trailer called "unbound: sin fronteras".[17][18]

  • Carver Branch
  • Cepeda Branch
  • Hampton Branch at Oak Hill
  • Howson Branch
  • Little Walnut Creek Branch
  • Manchaca Road Branch
  • Milwood Branch
  • North Village Branch
  • Old Quarry Branch
  • Pleasant Hill Branch
  • Ruiz Branch
  • St. John Branch
  • Southeast Austin Community Branch
  • Spicewood Springs Branch
  • Henry Terrazas Branch
  • Twin Oaks Branch
  • University Hills Branch
  • Willie Mae Kirk Branch (formerly Oak Springs Branch)
  • Windsor Park Branch
  • Yarborough Branch


  1. ^ "Locations". Austin Public Library. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  2. ^ a b "Austin Public Library Historical Facts Summary" (PDF).
  3. ^ "AAUW HERstory of the Austin Branch: 1923 – present | Austin (TX) Branch". Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  4. ^ a b "Fact Sheet". Austin Public Library. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  5. ^ Kirk, W. Astor (March 24, 2008). One Life - Three Professional Careers. Publisher: Magic Valley Publishers. pp. 86–95. ISBN 978-0980087970.
  6. ^ "Details for 1933 Austin Public Library (Atlas Number 5453006425)". Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved July 17, 2017.
  7. ^ "History of Our Building". Austin Public Library. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  8. ^ "Timeline of AHC History". Austin Public Library. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  9. ^ "National Register Statement of Significance for Faulk Central Library by Hannah Simonson". issuu. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-09-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Coming Soon! A New Central Library (Press Release)". Austin Public Library. Archived from the original on September 12, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  12. ^ "2006 Bond Program | - The Official Website of the City of Austin". Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  13. ^ "Seaholm redevelopment ready to break ground at last". statesman. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  14. ^ Chaudhury, Nadia (2016-12-16). "Austin Central Library's Cookbook Cafe Will Patch Together Recipes". Eater Austin. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  15. ^ Template:Https://
  16. ^ "About the Library". Austin Public Library. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  17. ^ "unbound: sin fronteras". Austin Public Library. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  18. ^ "Milwood Pocket Library Closing, Bookmobile Opening to Take its Place". Austin Public Library. Retrieved 2016-10-26.

External links[edit]