I’ll warn you now: this entry will be completely biased. Why? Because I’m a huge fan of Seattle and I’m totally in love with the Central Library! That might sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. I bring up the library every chance I can – so much so that I’ve started to hear my friends (not-so-subtly) mumble “get a room” under their breaths.
What can I say? No matter how you feel about the exterior of this eleven story contemporary structure (opened May 2004), inside it is pure library magic.
Visitors entering the library through the revolving door on Fifth Street will find themselves in the library’s main atrium filled with general seating, a cafe, and shelves of new and fiction books to browse. While there are quite a few books on this level, they’re just a taste of the library’s collection which boasts more than one million items.
As you make their way up through the libraries many floors, you may be struck by the neon yellow hue in the elevators and on the escalators or by the intense red-ness of basically everything on the fourth floor (I have no pictures of this, since taking pictures in an all red space = hard, but there are some good ones on-line).
You might also stop off to use one of the library’s more than 400 public computers. If you do, and if you’re anything like me, you might feel your heart fluttering at the sight of people from all walks of life gathering together to find, share, and create information.
Most of the Central Library’s non-fiction collection is arranged in a ‘book spiral’ that enables visitors to walk through the whole of the Dewey Decimal system along a series of ramps. I have to admit that when I first heard about this feature it sounded a-mazing, but when I actually walked through it, I was underwhelmed. Maybe I had built it up too much in my head…
The top public floor of the library (10th floor – the 11th is all offices) is mostly open and is designated as a reading area, but it is also home to the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Seattle Room.
If you have a chance to make it to this special collection, I recommend that you take advantage of it! First, the clear shelves (pictured right) also act as the walls of the collection room, which is genius. And second, the collection its self is awesome and includes a ton of great old books and lovely-smelling vintage newspaper clippings about all aspects of life in the early days of the Pacific Northwest. I particularly enjoyed the collection of vintage yearbooks.
By now you’ve probably had enough of my ode to this library, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some additional features that I didn’t have a chance to check out: 1. the Children’s area on the first floor 2. the Aviation history collection on the seventh floor and 3. the music and performance art practice rooms on the eighth floor (totally amazing, right?)
If I haven’t scared you away and you’re still interested in learning more about the Seattle Public Libraries Central Library, check out their virtual tour or their website at: http://www.spl.org/locations/central-library