New Library May Be Heading to Downtown Arlington

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The George W. Hawkes Central Library located in Downtown Arlington is the heart of the City’s seven-branch library system, providing over 200,000 books and audiovisual material, programming for all ages, over 80 public computers, research expertise and reference support.  The current facility turned 40 years old this year and suffers from a number of plumbing, electrical and mechanical concerns, as well as accessibility and environmental issues that cannot be easily corrected.  Over the last four years, library and city staff have been studying options for remodeling or building a new facility.

City Council members are awaiting the details of a capital financing plan that would pay for a shared City Hall/Library campus featuring a park/plaza area for visitors to enjoy. The campus, which is still in the planning stages,  would include a new 80,000 square foot library and a 6,500 square foot shared meeting space designed to serve as City Council Chambers and for library programming.

The new library will reflect the input of internal and community stakeholders who participated in visioning study conducted from 2009 through 2011 which included stakeholder interviews and focus groups, public surveys, public meetings as well as email and social media communication.  This study recommended the following important components that citizens wanted to see in a new Central Library facility:

  • An Interactive Center of Learning for Children will be the centerpiece of the new library.  Programming will focus on preparing “Arlington’s children for success in school.”
  • Teens will be able to enjoy a Real World Laboratory offering programming that will prepare them for college or the workforce.
  • A Center for Literacy and Workforce Development will ensure that adults and families have access to learning resources that lead to economic self-sufficiency and fulfillment of personal goals
  • Resources for local history and culture will ensure that Arlington citizens have access to information about where we’ve been and can appreciate Arlington’s cultural diversity

The campus would become a civic icon that embodies Arlington’s commitment to the future. It will serve the community’s needs for literacy, information and knowledge in the 21st century. Library Director Cary Siegfried wants the new facility to serve as a catalyst for meeting, learning and gathering so residents can remain connected and engaged in the community.

”Investing in library resources is one of the most important statements a city can make to demonstrate the importance of education for all of its residents, young and old, said Cary Siegfried, Director of Arlington Public Library. “While some people may feel that libraries are no longer relevant in the 21st century, a visit to any of our libraries here in Arlington will demonstrate that libraries are needed more than ever today.  But our prime focus is no longer on providing facilities filled with books; instead, libraries are centers where people can come to learn about new technologies, improve their career skills, learn a new skill or hobby, meet a study group, research a new business idea OR to simply find a good book!”

The estimated cost for the library design and construction is $20.5 million. The shared meeting space and park would cost an estimated $3 million, with the furniture, fixtures and equipment costing around $3.1 million.  This project is still pending approval by the Arlington City Council.

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14 thoughts on “New Library May Be Heading to Downtown Arlington”

  1. Where is Center Street if there is a meeting space between the library and City Hall? (Unless I missed that answer in the next MyArlingtonTX?)

    1. Lorraine: Thanks for your comment. Center Street won’t be impacted by the proposed new library. Under the plan being considered, Main Street between Pecan and Center St. would be reconfigured to accommodate the new building.

  2. I am so excited about this project, and the positive impact it will have on our community and downtown redevelopment. Libraries are very important to the fabric of our community, not because they house books, but because they inspire lifelong learning, foster creativity and imagination, and provide us with a community gathering place.

  3. If this is built I hope that it will not be an architectural eyesore in a few years time. At the time the existing library (and city hall) was built this was considered cutting edge architecture. Let’s keep this in mind and not make the same mistake again. Let’s have dignified timeless buildings, not a statement of cutting edge architecture circa 2014.

  4. What a great project! This will benefit the entire city with a new public space and kick off redevelopment of our downtown core. And the pice tag is very reasonable give other alternatives that were being discussed for remodeling the library.

  5. Libraries are obselete and just a landing for the homeless….get the whole city an internet connection and subsidize computers for the poor and you still come out ahead dollar wise in shutting down ALL the libraries. Selling the land for people to open up real businesses bring in tax dollars and jobs.

  6. There are items which hardworking citizen/taxpayers “NEED” and there are items which others who feel-good about wasting other people’s dollars “want” … this is definitely in the want but don’t NEED category

  7. Kathleen, keep in mind that this isn’t a “new” library as much as it is “getting to have a library at all”. The clock is ticking down on GW Hawkes fast — in the last two years we’ve dropped a million-plus on the roof, we’ve had a three-day closure because of plumbing issues that we can’t guarantee won’t recur, they don’t even make new parts any more for the elevators which literally-no-fooling *cannot be replaced* without renovating just about the entire structure…

    Nobody’s trying to spend twenty million because they like cutting checks. We either do this or we keep throwing money into a library-shaped hole until we have an “event” which forces the hub of our library to undergo “long-term closure”.

  8. The best solution is to tear down the library and rebuild it on the current site at the same price at a larger size building to handle that can handle up to 250,000 more people

    1. I wonder why it can’t be rebuilt on the same site as well. That way it can remain on Abram street and across from The Levitt Pavilion. Keeping the library on a busy street will encourage the public to utilize it. Adding some outdoor seating with shade would be a great addition. I believe the library is vital to our society. Education for all is a fundamental right and necessity.

      1. Perhaps the new building could have a courtyard in the center of the building. It would provide a pleasant place to read and meet. Also it would cut down on the noise from the trains.

  9. this is way too expensive. they need to find a cheaper way to build this, I understand it is an investment to education and a better environment for learning however the pricing is tremendous and irrational. To the mayor; they should implement this money for better programs for the homeless, for the people from Arlington that want to go to college but dont have the money, and for an overall raise to the people that work for the city. A new library is a nice idea but once again the money involved is outrageous

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