A first look at Austin's New Central Library

For John Gillum, Austin's New Central Library is a labor of love he'll finally get to debut in late October.  The groundbreaking was in 2013.

"People were calling me as I was out there turning the ceremonial shovel of dirt asking if they could already reserve things like the special events center, I love that I went 'no why don't you let me finish construction?'  I've got to get back to them now," Gillum said.

Gillum is the Facilities Process Manager for Austin Public Library.  Most of the money for the $125 million project came from a $90 million bond election back in 2006.  But for Gillum, it goes back further than that.

"I believe I first put pencil and paper about this project in 1992, that's when citizens started asking for a new central library," Gillum said.

Gillum says the new library is twice as big as the current Faulk Central Library that opened in 1979.  200,000 square feet, 6 sunlit stories with a rooftop garden, a cooking demonstration area, special events center, a spot just for teenagers, reading porches, and that's just on the inside.

"We did park beautification and trails.  We built the 2nd street bridge that you see over there.  Not usually part of a central library project," Gillum said. 

The library was supposed to open in 2016.

"Every central library is unique and that means that you really have to think about it and you have all sorts of challenges like every 15 minutes," Gillum said. 

And some more money was needed.

"We asked for $5 million back at the start of last budget year, last October 1.  And it was to finish construction basically," Gillum said.

The grand opening is set for Saturday, October 28th.

As for the homeless population that often gathers at the Faulk Library, Gillum says anybody and everybody can use the Central Library and the homeless are part of the community they serve.  But if anyone does something not allowed, they'll be shown the door.

"The worst criminal I ever had walk in the library and had to be taken away to jail walked in in a 3-piece suit.  You cannot make snap judgements about people," he said.

As construction wraps up, now comes the part where the library actually moves in.
They'll start closing parts of the Faulk Library on Monday as they move books over
As for the Faulk Library, that building will become part of the Austin History Center who really needs the space.