The Central Library is located in downtown Seattle between Spring and Madison streets and Fourth and Fifth avenues. Central Library's total program area now sprawls to 362,987 square feet, with an additional 49,000 square feet for underground parking for about 143 vehicles. In comparison, its predecessor was 206,000 square feet and had no public parking.
The current Central Library opened to the public on May 23, 2004 and in its first year of operation attracted more than 8,000 visitors a day - double the average attendance in the old building. The new Central Library gave Seattle both a civic icon and a functional, user-friendly building offering many different services and spaces.
Designed with growth in mind, the Central Library has a capacity for more than 1.45 million books and materials (compared to 900,000 in the old building). Currently there are 1 million items in the collection and 9,906 shelves devoted to books. All of those books move around the building in a high-tech book-handling system that operates for the most part out of public view.
Another sign of the building's move to the day digital age - Central Library now has more than 400 computers for public use and wireless Internet access as well. The previous building had just 75 public computers.
The Seattle Public Library has a collection of approximately 2,000,000 items. The collection includes books, audio books, music CDs, videos and DVDs, books in large type, and magazines and newspapers - for all ages. The Library also subscribes to numerous online databases and digital eBook and audio book services.
The Library has meeting and study rooms for groups large and small available in neighborhoods throughout the city, including the Central Library in downtown Seattle. The Central Library does not have any dedicated study rooms, but small groups may use the table seating found throughout the Library.
General library and architectural tours are available. Tours last approximately one hour and familiarize participants with the Central Library. General tours have a greater focus on the services of the library and the functions of the various levels and spaces, while architectural tours focus more on the structure and design of the building. These public tours are first-come, first-served and are limited to 20 participants. The sign-up sheets for each day's tours are made available when the Central Library opens and are located at the Welcome Desk on Level 3, just inside the Fifth Avenue entrance to the library.
Groups of 10-20 must make arrangements for a tour at least two weeks in advance. These tours are offered at no charge. A wide range of facilities is available for use at the Central Library. The spaces can accommodate a variety of activities, from large events to small, informal meetings.
The library is open from Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.