Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Seattle Public Library

Laura, from Puyallup, told me I should visit the Seattle Library.  Of course, that made me curious...
AND NOW I HAVE HUGE REGRET that I never went there.  The next time I fly into Seattle, I am going DIRECTLY to the library.  I'm going to take a tour...!!  This is from the Seattle Public Library website:

The Seattle Public Library celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1991, only two years after completion of a remarkable $4.6 million restoration project to assure the long-term luster of the Library's six Carnegie branches; the project received a prestigious honor from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The focus soon turned to the Library's physical needs in the upcoming new century and these ambitions were formalized at the best possible time. Circulation had soared past 5 million items by the mid-1990s, the Library's annual donations topped $1 million, and the dot-com frenzy was fueling an economy that seemed to promise a limitless future. Seattle voters in 1998 approved the largest library bond issue then ever submitted in the United States.

The landmark "Libraries for All" bond measure, which proposed a $196.4 million makeover of the Library system, garnered an unprecedented 69 percent approval rate at the polls. The massive measure doubled the square footage in the Library system and resulted in four new libraries in communities without library service, the replacement, expansion or renovation of 22 existing branches and a spectacular new Central Library.

Twenty-nine major national, international and local firms sought the opportunity to design the new Central Library. The Library Board's architectural choice for the project was as bold as "Libraries for All" itself. The surprise winner was Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, in partnership with the Seattle firm of LMN Architects. The iconoclastic Dutch architect had no major buildings built in America when the Library Board selected him over two other finalists, but the board's choice seemed insightful a year later when Koolhaas was awarded architecture's highest international honor, the Pritzker Prize.

This 11-floor, 362,987-square-foot library, a dazzling avant-garde symphony of glass and form, has many innovative features, including:
A "Books Spiral" that displays the entire nonfiction collection in a continuous run;
A towering "living room" along Fifth Avenue that reaches 50 feet in height;
A distinctive diamond-shaped exterior skin of glass and steel.

The new Central Library's unorthodox shape, unlike any other building in Seattle, is the result of its use of five platform areas to reflect different aspects of the library's program; its form indeed follows its function.

It includes a 275-seat auditorium and parking for 143 vehicles.

The Library for more than two years provided services in a temporary 130,000-square-foot library in the Washington State Convention and Trade Center at 800 Pike St., while the new Central Library was being built.

The new Central Library opened May 23, 2004, and immediately prompted international interest. "Libraries for All" was completed in 2008. The final price tag for the project, including donations and other gifts, totaled $290.7 million.

 The public was invited to a daylong celebration on Sept. 13, 2008. The Library distributed free commemorative Library Passports and invited people to tour all 26 new and remodeled branches and the Central Library for prizes. The passports featured beautiful color photographs and highlights of each building project. By the Jan. 2, 2009, deadline for the prize drawing, 356 people had visited every Library location and completed a "Library Passport."

The Seattle Public Library was remade on a scale unmatched by any other public library system in the country in order to meet the changed demands of the 21st century.

"Libraries for All" cemented The Seattle Public Library's reputation as a national treasure, shared and appreciated by all. The Library Board adopted a new strategic plan in February 2011. The Strategic Plan will guide the Library's efforts and is intended to set an ambitious course for the future of the Library and the enrichment of Seattle's residents. On Aug. 7, 2012, Seattle voters approved a $122 million Library levy to supplement city funding and preserve the investment in the 1998 "Libraries for All" bond measure. The levy will provide $17 million annually to stabilize funding and address the four areas identified by the community: keep libraries open, more books and materials, improve computer and online services, and maintain buildings.


  1. I just put it on my list for my visit there later this year! Never would have thought about it without your blog.