Need to knows:
Stroller or sling? Recommended stroller
Baby friendly restrooms? Yes – changing tables galore
Parking validation? Sadly no — free for 1 hour in the garage, additional rates here
If you find yourself wanting to cut back on the spending without compromising your bougie taste, then The Central Library is for you! It’s an excellent way to kill a few hours, particularly to beat the heat or shield yourself on a rainy day.
The Austin Public Library system actually includes 21 (!!) branches as well as the Austin History Center, but this is only about the Central library on César Chávez St. It is a beaut:
The building is 6 stories, but due to COVID safety they’ve had to temporarily close some of the space. Apparently it only recently re-opened as of August 2, but there was a good amount of people scattered throughout when we went midweek. Luckily, the space is vast — 200,000 sq feet! — so even though masking was encouraged but not mandated, it was very easy to social distance.
There’s an entire kids floor, a whole floor for adult’s fiction, and another for adult’s nonfiction. There’s also little reading patios outdoors which have ceiling fans and legit feel like you’re at a brewery minus the beer, Such ambience for a library! You can choose a few books and go outside on your reading patio to decide which one to check out. They overlook Shoal Creek and Ladybird Lake, which is a nice touch. They’re properly bougie and I love it.
There’s other bougie touches, ie a gallery space featuring local and national artists and a gift shop. There’s also media centers where people are watching movies and TV shows or using one of their 140 public use computers, Also, I’m not sure how common this is, but you can actually check out cookbooks if you’re so inclined. Their selection is really extensive.
The shining star of the whole experience, however, is the rooftop terrace. It’s incredible. It feels like the sort of exclusive space in Manhattan where you’d pay $30 for a dirty martini, but it’s in a public library where it’s free to join, Mind blowing.
Granted, there’s no cafe or bar up there, but it serves up incredible views of downtown. There is a cafe on the ground floor, so you can also buy a coffee of whatever and bring it to enjoy on the terrace. It’s a great place to read, work/play on your laptop, feed the baby, etc. It’s a very relaxed vibe, and probably the perfect place to escape if the baby has a meltdown.
If you’re in Austin city limits, the library is free to join, but you don’t even need to be a member to wander around and partake in that sweet terrace ambience. Check it out!