Reading into the Future


The new central branch of the Austin Public Library emerging on Lady Bird Lake reflects both old Austin and the modern high-tech city. Austin Community Foundation has played a key role in fostering the library’s past as well as investing in the library’s future.

Designed by Shepley Bulfinch and Texas architects Lake/Flato, the new library building is all Texas limestone and glittering glass. Central Texas touches include reading porches and live music spaces. The building is expected to earn the highest possible LEED certification for resource efficiency.

The new library is built on a solid foundation thanks to the $90 million bond supported by Austin voters as well as behind-the-scenes support from private donors. ” Over the past three years, the Library Foundation has raised funds to create six endowments totaling nearly $500,000 at Austin Community Foundation. The endowments are invested by the Foundation to help support the library’s future print and digital book collections, cutting-edge technology, and innovative programs.

Austin Community Foundation has provided an opportunity for library supporters to help provide for the library’s needs into the future. "Donors trust the Austin Community Foundation,” says Tim Staley, executive director of the Library Foundation, the public library’s fundraising arm. “It's reassuring to donors when we tell them, ‘If you invest in our endowment, it will be held at the Austin Community Foundation.’

In addition to fostering the library’s endowed funds, the Foundation has granted at least $75,000 since the 1980s to acquire collections and for adaptive equipment for the blind, youth initiatives and computer centers at branch libraries.

With a reading room overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake, the new Central Library offers a view that encompasses both Austin’s history as well as as its newest high-rises. The opportunity to build on old Austin’s strengths while incorporating the region’s high-tech knowledge and wealth is exactly what Austin Community Foundation is about.

—Elaine Robbins


More Images from the Austin Public Library