The Central Library of The Seattle Public Library has:
- 400 FREE Public Computers
- Wireless Internet Access
- Over 1 million books, movies (DVDs) and music (CDs) to borrow
- A Language Center with books, movies (DVDs) and music (CDs) to borrow in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and East African languages
- Bilingual staff available to answer questions and help patrons
- ESL (English as a Second Language) and citizenship resources, including classes, books and DVDs
- Library Equal Access Program with resources for the blind, low vision, deaf and hard of hearing
- An auditorium, meeting rooms and a training room available the public
- Areas for children and teens
- Classes for children, teens and adults in multiple languages; author readings and lectures; and book groups
- A coffee shop and FriendShop (gift shop)
- Special Collections including the Seattle and Aviation collections
- Underground parking
- Public Art
In 1998 Seattle voters gave the go-ahead to an ambitious building program that included improvements to all 22 branches of The Seattle Public Library, plus construction of four new branches. The same $196.4 million "Libraries for All" bond issue also made possible the 11-level Central Library that opened its doors at 1000 Fourth Ave. in May of 2004 - the third Central Library to occupy that same city block.
Though the location didn't change, much did. Today the Central Library sports a contemporary look and feel that is innovative in both form and function. Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and former Seattleite Joshua Ramus were principal designers on the project, working closely with the Library's board, staff and the public during its development phase.
Central Library's total program area now sprawls to 362,987 square feet, with an additional 49,000 square feet for underground parking for about 143 vehicles. In comparison, its predecessor was 206,000 square feet and had no public parking.
Designed with growth in mind, the Central Library has a capacity for more than 1.45 million books and materials (compared to 900,000 in the old building). Currently there are 1 million items in the collection and 9,906 shelves devoted to books. All of those books move around the building in a high-tech book-handling system that operates for the most part out of public view.
Another sign of the building's move to the digital age - Central Library now has more than 400 computers for public use and wireless Internet access as well. The previous building had just 75 public computers.
Read more about the Central Library: