Words by Kendall Talbot

In October 2017, Austinites welcomed a much-anticipated addition to their ever-growing metropolis: a new library! Located on the edge of downtown Austin, the Austin Public Library is central to the city and has a lot to offer its community. (Like, a lot.)

Photo Credit: Gabriel Cristover Perez

The building has six floors, making it a space of 200,000 total square feet. That’s a lot of books. But you can find more than just books among the stacks. The new library also contains 140 public-use PC and Mac computers and 150 self-check electronic devices, such as laptops and iPads. Once you have the book or electronic device of your choice, settle into one of the 589 assorted seats scattered throughout the building and on outdoor reading porches overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake.

While just wanting to be alone, or reading or working without distraction are common motives for visiting the library, needing a space for collaboration is also a great reason to make the trip. Check out one of the building’s 14 Shared Learning Rooms, all at your disposal for classes, workshops, meetings, co-working, and more. Or, if you’re meeting a friend or coworker for more casual conversation, grab a table at the recently opened Cookbook Bar and Café, located on the first floor of the library. (Visit http://www.cookbookatx.com/ for menus, hours, and more information.)

Photo Credit: Roger Ho

In true Austin fashion, the new library is pretty much self-sustainable. Its rooftop butterfly garden has the largest solar installation in downtown Austin, and the entire building operates 30 percent more efficiently than its energy code requires. Because of this sustainability, energy savings are equivalent to the energy needs of 130 households per year. And during the day, there isn’t much cause to turn on any lights inside the building, which lets in so much natural sunlight it’s reportedly the best “day-lighted” library in the world.

Photo Credit: Roger Ho

There are various ways to get to the new library. You can drive and park either in the building’s underground parking garage or on the street where there is metered parking. If you choose to park in the garage, be aware of the limited space (two levels with 140 parking spots) and the cost. You can find parking rates at https://library.austintexas.gov/central/parking. If you choose to park on the street, you will most likely also have to pay. City pay stations accept credit cards, debit cards, and change. Visit http://www.austintexas.gov/parking for more information.

Don’t want to deal with the hassle of parking? You also have the option to take the bus or ride a bike to the library. For bus routes and schedules, check out https://www.capmetro.org/. For the safest bike route, Google Maps can assist: The library connects directly to both the Lance Armstrong Bikeway and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, and there are plenty of places to park your bike around the building for free.

Photo Credit: Darcia McKnight

710 W. César Chávez St.


Library Hours:
Monday—Thursday, 10 AM–9 PM
Friday—Saturday, 10 AM–6 PM
Sunday, 12 PM–6 PM

Photo Credit: Roger Ho

Featured Photo Credit: Roger Ho

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