Take a tour of the Central Library
We look forward to your visit and offer several options for you to take a self-guided tour of the Central Library. We also offer free tours for groups of 5-20 adults between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. To request a group tour, please complete our tour request form on this page at least two weeks in advance.
Highlights of the Central Library
Moving Materials at the Central Library
The Red Floor at the Central Library
Art at the Central Library
Architecture at the Central Library
View or print self-guided tours
View or print your own copy of self-guided tours at Central Library.
Cell phone tour
You can take a free, self-guided cell phone tour of the Central Library. You control the pace and the order as you move through the building. Look for cell phone tour stop signs posted throughout the building. Call 206-686-8564 and enter the stop number (1-20) followed by the # key on your telephone. Stops are listed on the back of the self-guided tour for adults.
Please do not use speakerphone in the Library. Standard cell phone company charges apply.
Floor by Floor Highlights
Level 1: Fourth Avenue Entrance
- George Tsutakawa’s “Fountain of Wisdom” on the fourth avenue plaza
- Ann Hamilton floor: 556 lines of raised text in 11 languages on the maple floorboards
- Book return with conveyer belt
- Faye G. Allen Children’s Center for children and caregivers
- Interactive displays with building information near the security desk
- Microsoft Auditorium seating up to 275 people
- World Languages collection
- Library Equal Access Program
- SirsiDynix Gallery (behind the auditorium) with the 1960 “Northwest Screen” artwork
- Peak Picks display near the holds pickup area
- Library card sign-up
- Public courtesy phones
Level 3: The Norcliffe Foundation Living Room/ Fifth Avenue Entrance
- FriendShop gift shop on rails to fold up at night
- Chocolati café
- Reader Services desk for book recommendations
- Starbucks Teen Center space reserved for young people
- New fiction, nonfiction, large print books and DVDs
- Current newspapers and magazines
- Visitor Center with tourism information
Level 4: The Red Floor/ Meeting Rooms
- 13 shades of red paint on walls, ceiling, floors and stairs
- Four meeting rooms and two computer labs
- View of the Living Room on level three
- Behind-the-scenes view of Tony Oursler’s video sculpture “Braincast”
- ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’ text on the walls
Level 5: Charles Simonyi Mixing Chamber
- 338 public computers
- Digital artwork by George Legrady, “Making the Invisible Visible,” displays real-time information about items checked out
- Quick Information Center answers reference questions seven days per week
- Frank Okada artwork on black stairwell
- Tony Oursler video sculpture on the escalator down to level three
Levels 6-9: Books Spiral
- Nonfiction collection is housed in the Books Spiral
- Spiral ramp winding through levels six through ten at a two degree slope
- Dewey Decimal numbers printed on the walkways
- Level six: government publications, magazines, newspapers
- Level seven: Business, Science & Technology collection, business resources, magazine archives,
- job resource center, nonfiction DVDs, audiobooks on CD
- Level eight: Arts, Recreation & Literature collection, music practice rooms, gallery space, music CDs,
- music scores, play files
- Level nine: History, Travel & Maps collection, genealogy collection, map room, writers’ room, biographies
- Restrooms on level 7
Level 10: Betty Jane Narver Reading Room
- Reading Room seating over 400
- Seattle Room local history collection
- Highest public viewpoint, with view down to level three
- Artworks by Lynne Yamamoto and Frank Okada on the black stairwell walls
Group Tours for Adults
We offer free tours of the Central Library for groups of 5-20 adults, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
To request a tour at least two weeks in advance, please complete our tour request form on this page.
If you would like to visit with a group of young people, please go to our 'Group Visits for Youth' page.
If you have a question or need help, or if your group has more than 20 people and/or you want a time outside normal tour hours, email us.
Group Visits for Youth
You are welcome to bring your class or youth-serving organization to visit the Central Library. You can schedule a 15-minute orientation to the Faye G. Allen Children’s Center or Starbucks Teen Center and an overview of library services, and/or take a self-guided tour and explore the Library with a scavenger hunt. If you would like to visit a different branch, please contact the branch directly. If you are interested in scheduling a visit for youth at the Central Library, please complete our group visit form.