City Celebrates New Chapter With Opening of George W. Hawkes Downtown Library

Hundreds gathered in the City Center plaza Saturday morning to celebrate the next chapter of the Arlington Public Library, the long-awaited opening of the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library.

“Generations of Arlington citizens are going to be entering these doors and pursuing their dreams and what a difference that is going to make,” Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams said during the grand opening celebration. Williams called the 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art library “an inclusive place that will help each and every one to achieve their goals and dreams.”

The Downtown Library, located at 100 S. Center St. just north of  City Hall, was designed with public input to provide access, knowledge, and resources through cutting-edge technology, extensive print and digital collections and dynamic and enriching programming for the entire community. The building, with flexible meeting space, learning rooms and large areas for community gatherings, is also designed to adjust to the new technology and needs of future generations.

“Libraries are changing nationwide, and we’ve been changing here, too. As soon as you step inside this building you’ll see it’s very different from libraries you’ve known before. A twenty-first century library is about much more than books – although we still have books and lots of them. But our focus now is on providing you with resources and opportunities,” Libraries Director Yoko Matsumoto said. “Public libraries are pivoting to provide what their communities need, whatever that is.”

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After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the public was invited to tour the three-story facility. On the first floor, children played with robots, climbed inside the interactive Discover wall and read colorful picture books with their parents. Upstairs, patrons browsed the library’s extensive collection on the third floor and explored the second floor’s technology spaces.

Matsumoto thanked city leaders, city staff, donors and the Friends and Foundation of the Arlington Public Library, who helped raise $7.3 million as part of the Downtown Library’s $8 million capital campaign.

“This is really a transformational moment for Arlington. I’m grateful, like I know many of you are, to live in a City that prioritizes education, literacy and technology enough to build us this cutting-edge facility full of resources and opportunities,” Matsumoto said. “Libraries change lives, libraries are where dreams become reality for people of all backgrounds, and we are both proud and humbled to offer this building to you.”

Shortly before the doors opened, patrons released butterflies for the Library’s new butterfly garden. Other sustainability features, made possible by a grant from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, include a seed library, a rooftop solar array, a sustainability shop and a bike share station.

The Downtown Library’s regular hours of operation will be Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Downtown Library will be open on Sundays all year long.