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Library News Release

Release Date: 04/21/2004

Seattle's dramatic new Central library opens May 23

Seattle's most talked-about event next month is the grand opening of the dramatic new Central Library at 1000 Fourth Ave., designed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture of the Netherlands and Seattle-based LMN Architects.

During the past 2-1/2 years of construction, the public has watched with excitement as the giant, 11-level steel and shimmering glass structure has gone up. The community will finally get to see what's inside when the doors open at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 23. The library will stay open until 7 p.m. to accommodate the estimated 30,000 people expected to tour the 362,987-square-foot building that day.

"When people walk in, they will be awash in the natural light and voluminous space," said City Librarian Deborah L. Jacobs. " It is a stimulating haven and treasure house of books, media, computers and other resources. At last, the people of Seattle will have the library they deserve."

The $165.5 million Central Library is funded through a "Libraries for All" bond measure Seattle voters passed in 1998, in addition to private funds.

Ride Metro free to the grand opening
Metro is offering free transportation to the Central Library on opening day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Just pick up a free ride ticket - designed as a bookmark - at any branch of The Seattle Public Library, or at Metro's Customer Service office at the King Street Center, 201 S. Jackson St., or Westlake Station, mezzanine level, beginning Friday, May 7. Free tickets will be available outside Central Library entrances for return trips. Patrons may also contact Metro at (206) 553-3000 for more information.

10:30 a.m. - Pre-opening festivities
Pre-opening festivities get under way at 10:30 a.m. outside the Fourth Avenue entrance with a multicultural ensemble of percussion groups, which will play in an accelerating rotation of sound. The percussion groups include "Djembe Safara" (Senegalese), "Show Brazil" (Brazilian), "One World Taiko" (Japanese), "Radost and Friends" (Bulgarian/Macedonian), Summit School Steel Drum Band, and "Tsimshian Haayuuk" (Native American). Two lanes of traffic on Fourth Avenue will be closed from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. to help ease the crowd of thousands from around the world expected to attend this much-anticipated event.

10:45 a.m. - Dedication ceremony
At approximately 10:45 a.m., a brief and inspiring dedication ceremony will be held featuring City Librarian Deborah L. Jacobs, Mayor Greg Nickels, Library Board President Greg Maffei, City Council President Jan Drago and Washington Mutual Senior Vice President of Community and External Affairs J. Benson Porter. Washington Mutual is the premier sponsor of the Central Library grand opening and inaugural year programs.

11 a.m. doors open
The city librarian and city officials, together with winners of "I Love My Library" story contest (entries due May 1, call 206-386-4636, or visit www.spl.org), will be the first in the building from the Fourth Avenue entrance. Library patrons may enter the building from the Fourth or Fifth avenue entrances.

11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - Discovery path tour
On grand opening day, Library staff, volunteers and multimedia signage will help guide patrons through a "discovery path" tour of the building. Because of the thousands of people expected on opening day, the Library encourages patrons to wait until Monday, May 24, to conduct library business. "Opening day will not be business as usual," Jacobs noted. "Because we want everyone to have an opportunity to be a part of opening day, we are asking people to come enjoy the new building and see the new spaces, but to wait until the following day to get their in-depth questions answered or to check out materials."

While supplies last, each individual attending opening day will receive a perforated paper design of the Central Library that can be easily assembled into a model of the building. The memento was designed by the architects.

Artists panel discussion
The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Seattle Art Museum and The Seattle Public Library will present a panel discussion featuring Central Library artists Ann Hamilton, Gary Hill and Tony Oursler at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at the Seattle Art Museum, 100 University St., Plestcheeff Auditorium. The discussion will be moderated by Lisa Corrin and John and Mary Shirley of the Seattle Art Museum. Tickets are free, but required. Call (206) 654-3121 for tickets.

--- Opening week: Monday, May 24 to Saturday, May 29 ---

Each day of opening week will highlight a different part of the building. All events are free and open to the public. Registration is not necessary except for the May 27 architectural panel discussion at the Seattle Art Museum (see below).

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, May 24 - Charles Simonyi Mixing Chamber
Members of the public are invited to visit the Charles Simonyi Mixing Chamber, located on Level 5, where Library staff can help them with their general or in-depth questions. The Mixing Chamber also has 132 public computers. All librarians are particularly encouraged to visit between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and all educators from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 25 - The Norcliffe Foundation Living Room
Members of the public are invited to discover the many offerings on one of the most spectacular floors of the new library, The Norcliffe Foundation Living Room, located on Level 3. This floor features the Starbucks Teen Center, the Maria Lee Koh and Family Fiction Collection, FriendShop, coffee bar, Microsoft Auditorium, the Library Equal Access Project and wonderful spaces to read and study.

  • 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Auditorium - Book-It Repertory Theatre will give performances of "Baseball Saved Us."
  • 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Living Room - Patrons are invited to visit a "reader's advisory booth" for reading advice with fiction librarians.


10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 26 - Hugh and Jane Ferguson Seattle Room
On this day, the public is invited to celebrate Seattle's rich history and discover the in-depth genealogical services available in the library.

  • 11 a.m., Auditorium - Genealogist Cyndi Howells will discuss her book, "Planting Your Family Tree Online."
  • 2 p.m., Auditorium - Seattle Post-Intelligencer book critic John Marshall will talk about his book, "Place of Learning, Place of Dreams: A History of The Seattle Public Library."


Book signings and tours of the Seattle Room, located on Level 10, will follow each presentation.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, May 27 - Books Spiral
Learn more about how the Central Library's nonfiction collection is organized in the Books Spiral, located on Levels 6-9. Enjoy "Building New Central: A Photo Exhibit," a documentary photography exhibit by Lara Swimmer on Level 8 of the Books Spiral.

  • 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. -Attend a panel discussion on the architectural design process for the Central Library in the Auditorium. This event is presented by the Seattle Architectural Foundation and The Seattle Public Library, and is sponsored by the Naramore Foundation. For free ticket information, call (206) 667-9184 or email: info@seattlearchitectural.org. Tickets are required because of limited seating.


10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, May 28 - Betty Jane Narver Reading Room
Book lovers are encouraged to visit the new Reading Room, located on Level 10, and take in the beautiful views of the city. Also, be sure to visit the Maritz Map Room and Eulalie and Carlo Scandiuzzi Writers' Room on Level 9 during your tour.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 29 - Kids & Family Day
Kids and teens are invited to sign up for The Seattle Public Library's 85th annual Summer Reading Program on this day, designed especially for families. Sign ups for Summer Reading Program will be held in the Anne Marie Gault Children's Story Hour Room located in the Faye G. Allen Children's Center on Level 1. Performances will be happening all day in the auditorium. Entertainers include the jugglers "Brothers From Different Mothers," national children's recording artist Nancy Stewart, Spanish/English musician Marco Cortes and storyteller Charlie Williams.

For more information about the new Central Library and opening events, visit the Library Web site: www.spl.org.

(For more information, including media credentialing for opening events, call Andra Addison, communications director, 206-386-4103, andra.addison@spl.org.)

For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director

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