Arguably, 2017's hottest opening wasn't a cool restaurant or flashy hotel. Instead, when the Austin Central Library opened its (very beautiful) doors last fall, it was the most buzzed about event of the season.
Weeks after its debut, sitting over dinner or making pre-meeting small talk, the conversation would envitably turn to Austin's newest hot spot. "Have you been to the new library?" an aquaintance would ask before breathlessly adding, "you really must go."
The library, situated on a large plot of prime real estate, not only represents a commitment to public spaces, but its towering perch overlooking Lady Bird Lake instantly communicates Austin's cultural values. (And does so wordlessly, which is ironic considering it's a library.)
“The Central Library is the crown jewel of not just the Austin Public Library system but the city as a whole,” said Austin Public Library director Roosevelt Weeks in a release.
Now it seems the world is noticing Austin's favorite attraction. On June 28, the Austin Central Library was nominated for 2018 Public Library of the Year Award, an international award that honors the best libraries on earth.
Each year, the International Federation of Library Associations gives the award to a newly built library. Libraries are assesed on how the space implements new digital development, local culture, sustainability, and the wishes and needs of the users.
APL's "crown jewel" is one of only five in the world to be nominated, and the only one in North America. "Austin has one of the greatest libraries in the world, as this nomination confirms,” said Mayor Steve Adler.
It is a sentiment echoed by Weeks who added, "I’m so proud of this nomination. It speaks to what an incredible place our central library is.”
In addition to Austin, the other four nominee are Villa-Lobos Park Library in Sao Paulo, Brazil; KopGroep Bibliotheken in Den Helder, Netherlands; Deichman Biblo Toyen in Olso, Norway, and Tampines Public Library in Singapore.