Several hundred people attended the official groundbreaking ceremony for Austin’s new central library on May 31. This new library will be located in downtown’s Seaholm District, just to the east of the old Seaholm Power Plant. The building is expected to open in 2016.
Austin city dignitaries took their seats on the flat-bed-trailer stage shortly after 11 AM. Mayor Lee Leffingwell opened the ceremony, noting that Austin’s first public library was started 87 years ago with less than 500 books and will be soon housed in a $120 million facility. City Manager Marc Ott thanked those who perservered during 15 years of planning. Several city council members also offered their congratulations. Director of Libraries, Brenda Branch, seemed overjoyed that work was finally starting. She is the blonde with the big smile and the shiny shovel in the photograph below.
The new complex will feature an atrium, a cafe, community meeting rooms, and areas specifically designed to appeal to children and teens. Director Branch stressed that access to actual books will be an important feature of the new library…which is not always true for libraries these days.
No work has begun on the library site since the groundbreaking ceremony a few weeks ago. But digging has started on the west site of the Seaholm Power Plant. A long line of dump trucks block one of the westbound lanes of Cesar Chavez every morning now, waiting their turn to haul away dirt from the site. While I’m excited about the plans for the new central library, I’m dreading the road closures and traffic problems over the next three years!