Just up the street from Pike’s Place Market and standing tall on the corner of 4th Ave and Spring street is a building that looks like a giant greenhouse on architectural steroids.
Welcome to the Seattle Central Public Library.
I usually like to dive into the history of places that peak my interest, but honestly there’s a LOT to the history of Seattle’s library. In fact, you could probably get a four year degree in Seattle Public Library History. I read at least four different summaries and the only thing I remember is that Seattle’s original public library was completely destroyed in a fire in 1901. Dark.
BUT ON TO NICER TIMES.
The Seattle Public Library is a MUST SEE during even the shortest trips to Seattle. There’s Pike’s Place Market, the Space Needle, and SPL. That’s all you need in Seattle.
You can check out my post on spending a short 6 hours in Seattle here!
During my recent trip this summer (the only season that I dare visit the Evergreen state) I finally managed to remember my janky camera.
The architecture is immediately stunning from the outside. It’s currently ranked in the nations top 10 most beautiful public libraries, and for good reason (but you’ll see more on that as the post continues!).
As with any major city along the I-5 freeway, there’s a good amount of homeless people in Seattle. Well, at least in the summer. The library was no exception. While there were homeless people chillin around the outside, I’m personally used to it so I barely noticed. One of them even complimented my outfit so they gravy in my book. Anyways, just thought I’d point that out.
Upon first entrance, there’s a huge theater/conference room to the left. I wanted to stand at the podium and pretend I was giving a passionate speech about how the Puerto Rico recovery efforts are ridiculous and shameful at best and while we’re at it can someone take a look at Flint??? – but the librarian lady was watching me like a hawk and probably wouldn’t tolerate any of my foolishness. As I learned soon after, it’s the Microsoft Auditorium and apparently the back can expand to accommodate an additional 150 people!
The first floor is where you check in/out books and there’s also an exhibit featuring interviews and content from the Library’s social media feed – I’ll leave their social media links at the end! Plus, all of the staff had amazing recommendations!
Second floor is staff only ;/ But I’m pretty sure the only thing they do on that floor is book sorting and shipping and all that boring but necessary stuff.
The third floor is where the magic happens.
It’s called the Living Room, and it is truly where all the living happens. The library hosts tons of author’s readings, adult classes (and by that I mean genealogy, personal finance management, health forums, etc), teen groups and homework help, ESL classes and citizenship programs, cultural events (they have ballet performances here!!), and of course book clubs. The ceilings are an astonishing 50ft high and dramatic carpets decorate the floor. Light streams in from every angle and if you don’t look up in awe at how big the space is, you’re not human.
The living room also houses the small cafe and a cozy seating area. This floor has a ton of stuff. OH AND THE BOOKS. With over one million books on it’s nine thousand shelves, you could spend your entire summer vacation in this building and still not get through the entire collection. The library has four hundred free public computers, WiFi (#blessed), and a gift shop! I wasn’t feeling well that day so I was more off my game than usual and I missed the gift shop ;(
Books are books, so I didn’t take pictures of them, although now I realize that would probably be useful for writing this post. *shrug emoji*
Beyond the books lies the Red Hall Aka the Red Room. Aka the Meeting Rooms. Aka Mr. Grey would like to see you now.
The entire floor is painted aggressively bright red, and the halls curve into each other like tunnels covered in Halloween blood. This floor is mostly meeting rooms and a fancy set of bathrooms. Boeing had their own private suite (more than one actually). Rumor has it that inside the actual meeting rooms, the walls and floors are very neutral – greys, browns, and shades of beige. I can neither confirm or deny this, but if you’ve ever been inside, please comment below and dish what it’s like on the inside!
Floors 5-9 have all the computers, research resources, study areas, art installations, and the majority of the nonfiction selection. Keep going though, and you’ll see the real magic.
Take the elevator all the way to the top!
Well technically it’s not all the way at the top. It’s actually on the ninth floor. The top floor, 10, is the administration and HR floor. BUT THE NINTH FLOOR IS GORGEOUS. Even though it was a warm day (pushing high 80s) and super sunny, it wasn’t hot inside. I was a little nervous the glass would act like a magnifying glass, but it stayed cool. Another win for the library’s architecture.
The glass design offers views of the city from all angles of the library and hey, it’s also a green and sustainable building! I also love that the library celebrate’s the city’s diversity! The Seattle Public Library actively supports efforts that combat prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. I wouldn’t be surprised if the building grew legs and joined in on a community march.
Everything was so bright and angelic up there. If I had to imagine what heaven would look like, it would be something like this. Books and views. The Seattle Public Library could use a froyo stand, but they’re pretty close.
Seattle’s Public Library is definitely one of my favorite public libraries, right behind the Boston Public Library. (I tried to visit the one in NYC but it was closeddd *cry*). SPL is beautiful in the summer, but it’s also a safe haven for these next few months of rain! Grab your coziest sweater, pick up a book, and snag a nice chair by a snag a nice chair by the windows!
Remember to follow and check out Seattle Public Library on their social media accounts to keep up-to-date on all their latest !
Do you like visiting public libraries when you travel? Which one is your favorite?