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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Share your thoughts: Seattle's new library

Have you visited the new Central Library? We'd like to hear what you think. Send us your comments by filling out the form below.

Here is a selection of the comments we've received so far:

Great job, money well spent. Makes me feel proud to pay my taxes! I love the bright colors and the sun light that fills the building. Thank god there won't be any more long wait for a computer and I can now plug in my own laptop on any floor.
— Devon Whyte, Seattle

While I think the architectural design of the new library is very impressive, I'm somewhat disappointed in the overall comfort and feel of the interior. Finding a book isn't a problem. In fact, I was impressed at how easy it is to find a specific book. But it has an industrial feel to it, along with an outlandish color scheme. There's nothing about the interior that feels "warm" or "cozy." I was hoping to have a state of the art library that still felt like home. Instead I feel more like checking out a book quickly and getting out of the place.
— Josh Farris, Seattle

I was afraid I would be disappointed, after reading the glowing reviews and other information before the opening. After seeing the building and talking to others, I am very pleased by the results on every level. Way to go Seattle, and congratulations to Deborah Jacobs!
— Conrad Kartanas, Seattle

Oh, what a mess. Escalators that go up, none that come down. Stairs that cannot be easily located. A red floor that looks like it came out of a horror movie. Slippery metal floors. Abundant tripping hazards.

This place is an accident waiting to happen. The jumpers no longer have to go to the Aurora bridge. They now have the "suicide point" right in the public library. How convenient.
— Nathan Bohlig, Seattle

Our new library is sure to set off a sonic boom in the creative stratosphere. It's off the page design feels like a high tech human greenhouse, designed to incubate and launch the mind into new realms. All this stretching of girder and beam for our beloved book, as humble and familiar as a potato. How exciting for children to grow up with this concept of "library." Thank you, Seattle!
— Linda Stein, Shoreline

Yikes! I'm not nearly as impressed as most folks who've commented. First of all, it's the second-ugliest building I've ever seen (first would be the EMP). Second, the fiction section is dark and what light there is glares off the spines so it's hard to read the title. As for the non-fiction "spiral," I'm not sure if I was lost or trapped! I couldn't get down from there! I finally found the elevator, but it never came! I had to walk down the emergency stairs — is this safe? If you're a researcher or student, I'm sure you'll think it's heaven. If you're just browsing ... good luck!
— Kathy Wood, Burien

A provision in Seattle Public Library's mission statement reads: "Staff and patrons are encouraged to laugh often and loud." Upon viewing our new library building it occurs to this patron that encouragement won't be necessary.
— Don Butler, Seattle

Architecture dedicated to the mind...all that natural light made me WANT to read. If your kids don't want to do their homework send them there! The Spiral was amazing-I felt like I was walking around a DNA chain, finding interesting diversions along the way. Truly world class- it shows how much we love our books!
— Heather Stacie, Seattle

Awesome, just awesome. It makes me proud to be a Seattleite!
— Dave DeCordoba, Seattle

Our family made the trek yesterday, having anticipated this for some time. I was astonished at the incredible energy, dynamism, beauty, and grace, both in and outside our new library. Our 11 year old said, "I thought this was going to be BORING!" (He was enchanted as well.) Our 15-year-old rounded every corner quietly exclaiming "cool". When we got to the teen center, both promptly found a Manga book they've been wanting to read and not finding, and that sent them on a search for more. We walked out with books, talking about teen rendezvous to snuggle in the foam chairs and read poetry together after school, and plotting to repaint bedrooms and furnish them with foam wedges like in the teen center. I cannot wait to go down by myself so I can wander...I found myself on the verge of tears several times yesterday. I'm very grateful for this exquisite place. Thank you SPL!
— Rebecca Sandel, Seattle

We spent a lot of money on a library, much of it going for its eye apeal, all the while our libraries are running at reduced hours because of budget matters? I would as soon get my books from a trailer and have it open more hours!
— Terry Pratt, Seattle

I will preface my comments with a disclaimer: I love the new library, and I'm honored by its presence in our city. However, there is one major problem — the lack of accessible staircases. Going up, you can reach every floor via stairway and/or escalator. However, to get from the sixth floor down to the fifth you must take an elevator (the emergency staircases don't count, as they are for emergencies only). This has already become a problem by day two, as the sixth floor librarians were encouraging those of us who were confused and irritated (and there were many) to submit written complaints. The old library may have been run-down and ugly, but at least I could reach any stack on any floor and walk back down the sames stairs to an exit.
— Bill Nordwall, Seattle

Folks who build glass libraries shouldn't lay off librarians.
— Rita Nalette, Seattle

What a triumph. Sublime architecture. Never was tax money better spent. It is a showcase for the greater Seattle. Something to be proud of and hold dear. Can't wait to show my sister from Holland.
— Uko Gorter, Kirkland

The new library is nice and open. However, that openess allows for a lot of echoing around the upper levels, which are rather difficult to get down from; there is an escalator that takes you all the way up but you have to take the elevator down and they are rather slow too. Having just come from the library I heard nothing but complaints about how to get down. The only stairs are an Emergency Exit that has an alarm on it.
— Jeffrey Whelan, Bothell

As a library director for many decades, I'm impressed with what you all have done. Someone is creative and has created a beautiful building.
— Dale Perkins, Pismo Beach, Calif.

What an awesome achievement. It cost $100 million less than Seahawk Stadium but redeems Seattle for the design transgressions of that sports facility and countless other dubious landmarks. Who can doubt the power of this building to help inform the design of future public buildings? Congrats Emerald City, this gift was long overdue.
— Paul Owens, Seattle

I love the new downtown library! I felt like I was walking into a giant ice cave frozen over granite cliffs. There must have been over 10,000 people in the building when I was there and it was still relatively quiet. I want to go back without all the lines of people and wander through all the collections. The only flaw I see is the bathroom floors. A gentleman spilled his latte in there and had trouble mopping up the mess off the painted stucko concrete. One word: tile!
— Jer Gallagher, Seattle

I have not visited the libary but by all accounts it is a wonderful building. However, I cannot help but wonder whether we have built a monument to the egos of our politicians and librarians. In this digital era, the whole concept of a central public library seems outdated. The large collections it will house are probably not very relevant to the needs of most citizens. In my view we would have been better off focusing all our resources into neighbourhood libraries with smaller collections but easier access. I know we already have a good network of neighbourhood libraries and it is being improved but many people still live a long way from their nearest branch.
— William Wilcock, Seattle

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