The Need For A New Downtown Library
Libraries play an important role in the communities they serve. At a library, children can get access to the tools they need to succeed in school, families can learn a new language together and job seekers can access the technology and resources to help them become more competitive in the workforce. In Arlington, Texas, the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library is no different. For the last 43 years, the Central Library has been a destination for hundreds of thousands of Arlington residents looking to learn, discover and gain new skills.
However, after countless repairs and maintenance of long-term structural issues, the Central Library reached the end of its useful life. The areas of greatest concern included:
Although recent renovations helped to extend the life of the building, major structural issues remained. An aging infrastructure, fractured plumbing system and a concern for construction structural integrity could have forced the library to close unexpectedly. The building’s age and original design posed accessibility issues throughout the building.
With the constant advancement of information technology, the IT infrastructure available to visitors at the Central Library was insufficient for a 21st-century library. By 2014, after expansion possibilities had reached their limit, the technology resources available could no longer meet the growing needs of library users.
A study of library users indicated a need for increased programming at the Central Library. Programs of greatest interest were related to early literacy skills, STEAM topics for tweens and teens, literacy and workforce development, as well as local history, genealogy and cultural celebrations. Opportunities to pursue many of these types of programs were limited by the resources and spaces provided in the old Central Library facility.
Following an assessment and public comment period, city leaders agreed that the best course of action would be to construct a new Downtown Library to better serve the community: Arlington’s library of the 21st century!