The Library Stack, tierneytravels

Peaceful Oasis at the Austin Central Library

I was in Austin, Texas the week of 05/23/2022, the same week of the School Shooting Massacre In Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday 05/24/2022. I was staying in downtown Austin, where my partner John was attending a multiple day work meeting with his leadership team.

Tuesday 05/24/2022 I was coming out of the hotel gym after a great workout, about to go back to my hotel room, shower and then spend the day exploring downtown Austin, when I passed by the hotel bar area where news of the shooting was being broadcast.

I stood there dumbfounded and in shock, surround by other hotel guests who were equally in shock. The school shooting occurred 10 days after another horrible mass shooting that shook me to my core – the Buffalo, NY Grocery Store Shooting.

John was in a work meeting and could not be disturbed so I was left to spend the rest of the day in distress, flipping from news channel to news channel to find out more and more disturbing details while sobbing.

That evening I went to dinner an evening boat tour to see the bats that live under one of the bridges on the river that runs through downtown Austin, with John and his colleagues. At dinner we kept the conversation as light as we could and several of his Austin based colleagues talked about the amazing Central Library in downtown Austin.

Library? An awesome library?!?! Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I am obsessed with public libraries. I’ve loved libraries since I was young (9 or 10?) and spent a summer at the public library nearly every day, riding my bike to the library every day and befriending the kind librarians who worked at the library and took me under their wing.

John’s colleagues mentioned that the Austin Central Library had a rooftop garden and amazing architecture.

Libraries to me are nearly sacred peaceful oases. I knew that Wednesday I needed to visit the Austin Central Library.

And I did. And it was a peaceful oasis and my spirit was centered and calmed for a couple blissful hours.

Here is the photo essay about that visit.

I walked a mile through the beautiful park (River Metro park?) along the Colorado River running through downtown Austin to the Central Library. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and in another post I will share photos from that walk as well as other photos of downtown Austin.

I entered the library on a lower level and I tingled with anticipation. Here are the stairs that greeted me that I could not wait to climb:

Before ascending the stairs, I noticed the library had an amazing high tech book return station:

After ascending the stairs, and being the library geek I am, I stopped at the information booth, informed the library team member who greeted me that it was my first visit to the library (and how excited I was to be there) and got a map to guide me through the library.

The library’s interior was amazing. The library has 6 levels, connecting with lofty ascending staircases. I explored all 6 levels!

The library has a huge clock that it can be viewed from any level and is as tall as a level or more:

This window, viewable from many levels, is just breathtaking:

I already heard about the rooftop deck and was planning on making that my last stop after exploring the other levels but then I discovered the library had a READING PORCH and I started on a mission to put together a “library stack” to take out to the reading porch.

I headed to my favorite section – Non Fiction – 700s to put together my stack!

I took my lovely “library stack” to the reading porch and spent a couple hours reading books as well as having a little picnic lunch I put together on the enclosed porch with views of downtown Austin:

It was so amazingly peaceful on the reading porch and I could only hear the bird song (there were trees filled with birds near the porch) and the sounds of traffic below. It was such a wonderful place to read my “library stack”(which I could only read/look through at the library since I was not a local resident).

After a couple hours in the reading porch and some reading of/flipping through the books in my stack, I returned them for re-shelving inside, and then wandered additional levels until I got to the rooftop deck.

A couple fun standouts on my way to the rooftop deck include the “Technology Petting Zoo” and the Board Game area – where you could grab a board game and play games with friends/family at the library!

I was not sure what to expect of a library’s rooftop deck but I was pleasantly surprised! It was huge, filled with people reading, visiting and lounging about. It had a garden area and amazing views of downtown Austin!

Here are some of the photos I took while on the rooftop deck:

I was craving something sweet and after the rooftop deck, I headed back to the ground floor of the library and had a cupcake at the library’s cafe called the Cookbook Bar & Cafe.

And guess what – the cafe was filled with used cookbooks! You could browse/flip through cookbooks while you ate (and I did) – it was glorious (and the cupcake I had was glorious!):

With my belly full of delicious cupcake and my spirit soothed by the energy of a public library, I headed back to my hotel, enjoying the scenery immediately outside of the library on my route back to my hotel.

I took a ridiculous amount of photos but I tried to select the photos that would give you a general idea of how awesome the Austin Central Library was to visit. Here is a little video tour if you are wanting more:

Oh and I thought this was pretty cool – I’ve never seen a library do this!

23 thoughts on “Peaceful Oasis at the Austin Central Library”

  1. thank you for the tour! very interesting building. by the way, the deschutes public library system is fine free now too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! What a great library! I too love public libraries and any place that has lots of books. Coffee shops are my second favorite. I love sitting in a coffees shop and looking at the people and enjoying a good cup of joe while I work. Paradise!

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  3. Wowzer! My best friend from childhood (we’ve kept in touch with each other like forever) has lived in Austin since the 70s…and back then we called it the Boulder of Texas.
    Anyway, never ever have I seen such a place as you’ve posted about…and it’s all free and open to the public. Not all libraries can be this extravagant but all libraries seem to share that sense of community, sanctuary and eagerness to enable one’s growth through learning…
    Wowzer, I’ll have to call my friend now…Thanks for the nudge!

    BTW: I remember a branch of the Lakewood library having one of those techie return book thingies – during my Summer of Dad it was an odd amusement for me to watch my books go through the thing as it had camaras for you to watch its travels along the conveyer belt.

    PS- what an incredible May 24th you (and those fully affected) had.

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  4. Hi Tierney, we have yet another thing in common – I love libraries too! And wow, this one in Austin is just breath-taking!! I could’ve spent the whole day there ;-). Your pictures captured a sense of awe and I now I have something else added to my bucket list! LOL

    I visited Austin once for a work meeting and they didn’t leave much time for exploration however I know I loved the vibe of the city and it makes perfect sense their library would be this amazing. Thanks for sharing!!

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  5. Thanks for posting such a great blog about the Austin Central Library.ย  I live in the Houston area, about 2 hours away, and I have passed many hours checking out the sites of Austin.ย  I have never been to this library and it is a great surprise.ย  I will plan my next escape to Austin around it.ย  I am glad you found a peaceful respite on your trip to Austin.ย  Everyone I know has been thrown upside down with the turmoil we are in at this time.ย  I am so glad you could find a place to get away.ย  We need that these days. I enjoyย  your blog!ย  Keep up the good work! Thanks again! Jane HancockCypress, TX


  6. It is so horrible how we now have to deal with so much bad news in such a short time. I am glad you found this lovely spot to spend some peaceful time in. I have never seen a library quite like this!

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  7. Now I’m sure that counts as “doing nothing” as I’ve commented about on one of your posts. Yes, you weren’t doing “nothing” but in a way you were – because you were doing something you’ve loved forever “Libraries”. Our main city library was refurbished during the last few years, maybe I should go check it out again and our regions libraries are fine free as well…people were not returning books at all, because of the overdue fines.

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  8. That looks like an amazing library! How wonderful to be able to retreat there after the terrible news of the day before. Also glad you got to see the bats emerging – that must have been amazing as well. Hope you are doing OK. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

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