Self-Guided Tours

Highlights of the Central Library Video

Chief librarian Marcellus Turner and Library staff members show you the highlights of the Central Library in downtown Seattle.

Moving Materials at the Central Library Video

Library staff and chief librarian Marcellus Turner show you how materials move through the Central Library in downtown Seattle.

The Red Floor at the Central Library Video

Chief librarian Marcellus Turner shows you the highlights of "the red floor" at the Central Library in downtown Seattle.

Art at the Central Library Video

Chief librarian Marcellus Turner shows you the public artworks at the Central Library in downtown Seattle.

Architecture at the Central Library Video

Chief librarian Marcellus Turner shows you the architectural highlights of the Central Library in downtown Seattle.

Audio tour

Join chief librarian Marcellus Turner on an audio tour of The Seattle Public Library's Central Library in downtown Seattle.

Listen to Audio (mp3) [file size: 23 MB] [Play time: 25 min]

Transcription (pdf)

View or print self-guided tours

View or print your own copy of self-guided tours at Central Library.

Self-guided tour for adults  

Self-guided tour for teens  

Self-guided tour for kids, families and school groups  

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
  • Restrooms

Level 3: The Norcliffe Foundation Living Room/ Fifth Avenue Entrance

  • FriendShop gift shop on rails to fold up at night
  • Chocolati café
  • Designated eating area
  • Reader Services desk for book recommendations
  • Short Edition Story Dispenser
  • 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
  • Restrooms
  • Find the hidden octopus mural and post a #SPLselfie.

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
  • Restrooms

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
  • Find the hidden space-themed mural and post a #SPLselfie.
  • 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. Please request a tour at least two weeks in advance.

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.