I was not expecting such a flashy building to be the centerpiece of Seattle’s library system. Our little neighborhood library is a fairly simple space, with kind of an open, school-library sort of feel to it. The Central Library, however, is Architecture with a capitol ‘A’, and as such I’m sure Fancy People with Vaguely Foreign Accents and Weird Glasses have written at length about it in words of both weighty praise and solemn condemnation.
Even more surprising, it’s not even quite ten years old! I suppose that explains why the whole thing is in such good shape, although I have to admit I thought it was a remarkably well-preserved 1960’s Library of the Future project since it’s a little evocative of something from EPCOT Center. It had some quirks, and based on the fact that I kind of had a tougher time than expected finding the non-fiction section, not super intuitive, at least for the way my brain works. Nevertheless, I had fun wandering around. It’s kind of weird, but I’ll go ahead and come down on the side of liking it. I’ll have to visit it again when I have a little more time to browse.
If you come to Seattle for library tourism, though, don’t forget to check out the library on the University of Washington campus, which is definitely the more ivy-covered-brick sort of library. It has a very churchy looking reading room lined with books arranged in a completely arbitrary way, so they’re mostly decorative in there. You can read them, but they’re not actually organized, so you might find a book about ancient China on the self right next to some plays by George Bernard Shaw, which is next to something about the geology of Hawaii. The reading room collection consists of books that are redundant with the main collection and available for casual perusal, making the whole thing the University of Washington’s Giant Coffee Table, I suppose. I should spend some more time in there too, and see if anyone has smuggled any interesting renegade books or ‘zines onto the shelves, since that might be an excellent place to find something like that.
Anyway, enough about libraries– I need to post this comic and get to bed!