The Austin Central Library is a new landmark in Downtown Austin that you should check out! Dine at Cookbook and explore this new library.
I can’t imagine my childhood without my local library. My family would check out stacks of books and movies regularly. Joining the annual summer reading program was a highlight of my summer. It was a place where I used the internet for school projects before we got a computer. In high school, it became a place I regularly volunteered. It’s a place that fueled my love of reading and it continues to do so.
The importance of libraries was recently questioned by a news website, but it’s very clear that libraries do matter!
Why Libraries Matter
Libraries are more than a place to borrow books, movies, and audiobooks. A library’s resources are vast and all visitors have access to magazines, computers, the Internet, a quiet place to work or read, and various free community events. It’s a community space to host a meeting or catch up with friends and family. A library is an invaluable resource for a community, which is one of the reasons why Austin’s Central Library was such a big deal.
Austin Public Library – Central Library
Last fall, Austin Public Library opened the doors of the Central Library, their huge location in Downtown Austin, with great fanfare. I’ve visited a couple of times and am in awe of this place every time.
It’s an aesthetically pleasing space with plenty of nooks and bright colors. The meeting rooms are front and center, providing great views for visitors and echoing a focus on collaboration. It’s architecturally impressive.
As a kid, I loved exploring my local library. The children’s section at the Central Library highlights an interactive space for kids to dream, learn, and create. I’m sure kids love it! Plus, for parents looking for a free activity for kids, this is a good one.
This library was built for LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of certification, meaning it included a handful of criteria to be environmentally friendly. It’s also the first City of Austin building to achieve this. Some of the criteria include managing waste, water use, and recycling, while also meeting high potentials for green power. You can see the features throughout the building, from an abundance of bike racks to a spacious green rooftop space with solar panels. Check out that view of Austin!
Parking will always be a hassle you pay for downtown. They do have a parking garage that is free for the first 30 minutes, then it goes up from $3. Visit on a Sunday for free street parking if you’re lucky. They also have plenty of bike racks.
Whether it’s the cost of parking or the hip downtown location, I hope potential visitors aren’t dissuaded and that this library serves all of Austin.
Dining at Cookbook Bar & Café
Another feature at the library is its restaurant Cookbook, which recently opened. I love the concept of this eatery. The dishes on the seasonal menu are from cookbooks. Led by ELM Restaurant Group, the team behind Austin restaurants Italic, 24 Diner, Irene’s, and Fareground, Cookbook is in good hands and the menu is curated by Chef Curren.
My friend Janna and I enjoyed a tasty spread. We tried:
- Farmer’s Breakfast Grilled Cheese (Eggs, Potatoes, Bacon, Chive Butter, Cheddar in Sourdough) from Grilled Cheese Kitchen by Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollak
- Turkey Waldorf Sandwich, from Emeril’s Kicked Up Sandwiches by Emeril Lagasse
- Mushrooms, garlic, shallots with lemon ricotta from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
- Artichoke Fritters with preserved lemon aioli from Shaya by Alon Shaya
- Pomegranate Spritzer from Chez Panisse Fruit by Alice Waters
The Farmer’s Breakfast Grilled Cheese was hands down my favorite dish with the mushroom dish close behind. The pomegranate spritzer was a very refreshing drink. It’s a sizeable menu that will change seasonally, so go try some of the dishes.
Of course, I can’t talk about the restaurant without mentioning this incredible display. The restaurant’s Virginia B. Wood Memorial Cookbook Collection has more than 500 cookbooks and might make your heart skip a beat. The late Virginia B. Wood was a well-known food editor and critic in Austin that propelled the local culinary industry with her writing and support. What a gift and inspiration this display will be to all! Cookbooks are meant to be read, so feel free to flip through the pages of some of the most delicious books.
Explore a new Austin landmark, get a taste of Austin’s culinary scene, find a quiet place to read, and admire views of Austin. Austin’s new Central Library is following the trend of libraries becoming destinations and tourist stops because of its aesthetics, but I have a feeling it will also draw in Austin residents who will benefit from its resources. If you’re local, check out their event calendar for author discussions and special events.
Central Library, Austin Public Library
710 W. César Chávez St.
Austin, TX 78701
Do you visit your local library or have you ever visited a library while traveling?
P.S. Check out these epic libraries around the world!