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Austin Central Library named one of top five worldwide

New facility chosen as Public Library of the Year finalist

Austin Central Library
Courtesy of Austin Public Library

Austin’s new Central Library, the Downtown facility designed Lake|Flato and Shepley Bullfinch that opened last year to wide acclaim, recently received more recognition: It scored a spot as on one five finalists for the International Federation of Library Association’s (IFLA) Public Library of the Year prize.

According to city of Austin press materials, the international organization bestows the award on a different new library every year. The award is based on “the extent to which the library takes into account new digital development, local culture, sustainability, and the wishes and needs of the users,” the statement reads.

Austin’s 200,000 square-foot library, which opened in October, has already become a central identifying landmark in Downtown Austin and on Lady Bird Lake, which it overlooks. It features a six-story, sunlight-filled atrium, surrounded by collections, event space, and reading porches overlooking the lake and Shoal Creek. It also has 14 shared learning rooms, more than 100 computers, 150 self-checkout devices, an art gallery, a gift shop, and and a cookbook-themed coffee shop that features the collection of the late, influential local food writer Virginia B. Wood.

The IFLA’s nomination is based on its focus on sustainability and the high flexibility of its interior design and furniture. The library has received a number of awards from the American Institute of Architects as well one from the American Public Works Association.

According to the city, Austin made the finalist cut from an original list of 35 libraries from 19 countries that applied to be considered for the award. It is the only American library to make the top-five list. The finalists are:

• Austin Central Library

• Villa-Lobos Park Library, Sao Paulo, Brazil

• KopGroep Bibliotheken, Den Helder, Netherlands

• Deichman Biblo Toyen, Olso, Norway

• Tampines Public Library, Singapore

The winner will be announced at the IFLA Annual Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on August 28.