The Coolest Public Libraries In Austin

Austin, Texas public library system isn’t the biggest in the country, but that just means the pressure’s on to make it really great! The Austin Public Library system has a lot of branches scattered throughout the city, and one absolutely phenomenal central library that’s been nationally recognized. Many of these Austin public libraries offer kids areas, modern and renovated interiors, story times, special programs, great places to study, and updated reading materials for all ages. A visit to the local library is a great way to spend time with your kids, enjoy a good book in a quiet setting, use some free wifi, or take advantage of a unique city program or presentation. We’re going to share some of the coolest public library branches in Austin. 

So, if you're looking for a great place to get lost in a good book, to read magazines, to get some work done, or even a good place to enjoy a beautiful building, Austin is home to plenty of cool public libraries. Use this guide to help you decide which Austin public library is best for you. And, of course, use the map below to find out which one is closest to you. 

The Coolest Libraries in Austin
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The Coolest Public Libraries In Austin

Austin Central Library - Downtown

Central Library in Austin Texas

One of Austin's top public libraries is the Austin Central Library - Downtown. If you’ve never been, it’s literally worth a special trip downtown just to visit this library! It’s a 6-floor library with a rooftop garden overlooking the lake, a cafe, a store, and a floating staircase. This 200,000-square-foot building cost $125 million to build. 

We’ll state the obvious, first: they offer a huge collection of books, magazines, and other reading materials...about 360,000 items, in fact. With all of the reading nooks, conference rooms, and study tables, it’s an excellent place to spend the day relaxing and reading or working.

 On the third floor, there’s a fantastic, separate space for kids that has tons of books. They also have some computers for older kids to use as well as some toys for smaller kids to play on. There is a sizable reading porch with inviting seats inside and an inside area with tables (and window seats) where you can relax while reading. 

Aside from reading, this central library has a lot of fun features like a 37-foot kinetic “cuckoo clock” piece of art hanging in the atrium, teen video gaming, an art lab, writing groups, robotics nights for tweens, all-ages story times, parking space for 200 bicycles, a coffee shop and cafe in the library, and family game nights. 

A visit to the Austin Central Library is truly one of the best things to do in Austin (and it’s totally free!), so try to make a point to stop by if you haven’t yet. 

WEBSITE | 710 W Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701, USA

Yarborough Branch Library

best libraries in Austin - Yarborough brand

One of the best local favorite public libraries is the Yarborough Branch in North Central Austin. It’s located off of Hancock and in an old historic movie theater known as Americana Memories. The library has a very retro aesthetic interior design that folks absolutely love. Their librarians and staff are all kind and welcoming. 

They have an extensive collection of books, magazines, and DVDs (yep, still have those!) that are well-organized and easy to find. They also have a good amount of children's books and a fun area with tables, chairs, and puzzles. For story times, they offer a separate room and this branch also has scavenger hunts available for the older kiddos. All-in-all, it’s a clean, cozy space that’s beloved in Austin.

WEBSITE | 2200 Hancock Dr, Austin, TX 78756

Twin Oaks Branch

Twin Oaks Branch Library in Austin

The original Twin Oaks Branch, which had been operating out of a lease space since it opened in 1956, was kinda-recently replaced with the current Twin Oaks Branch, which is situated at the intersection of South Fifth Street and West Mary Street in the heart of Bouldin Creek in south Austin.

The staff here are really helpful and run a tight ship. There’s a cute, private children's section with three little “doors” that you can use to enter it, based on your height. There’s also a veranda with a pergola where you can eat your snacks and drinks (no food inside!), and a peaceful workspace with private study partitions, each with a Herman Miller chair and an in-table outlet. For those looking for a peaceful location to work or study, the Twin Oaks Branch offers an excellent setup. It’s quiet, and clean, has excellent AC in the hot Texas summers, and has fast wi-fi.

WEBSITE | 1800 S 5th St, Austin, TX 78704

North Village Branch Library

Coolest libraries in Austin

Another excellent Austin library branch in North Central Austin is North Village Branch. It has a recently constructed patio area outside where you can chill and relax while reading. It one of the quietest and calmest libraries in north Austin, so if that’s a thing you look for in your public study/work space, keep this place on your to-visit list. The librarians are extremely helpful, informed, and friendly. 

For children ages 5 and older, there is a Lego Lab where they pretty much just drop a large bag of Legos on the floor and let the little ones use them to express their imaginations to the fullest for an hour. Also, like most of the best public library branches in Austin, there are storytimes for all age groups.

Photo Credit: Erica L, Yelp

WEBSITE | 2505 Steck Ave, Austin, TX 78757

Howson Branch Library

Coolest libraries in Austin

Although Howson Branch Library is a pretty small branch here in Austin, it still has a helpful staff and a great environment. The place is cozy, calm, and quiet. You can peruse their large collections of books, graphic novels, and indie & foreign movies in a peaceful setting. And yes, they also offer story time for children.

Tucked into Tarrytown, Austin, the Howson branch opened on October 5, 1960. It was constructed using Mrs. Emilie Wheelock Howson's donation, for whom the branch is named, rather than money from the city. Be sure to look for the portrait of Mrs. Howson on exhibit!

Photo Credit: Ronnie M, Yelp

WEBSITE | 2500 Exposition Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

Southeast Branch Library

Coolest libraries in Austin

Southeast Branch Austin Public Library is a little bit older, but it’s always clean, well- organized, and full of friendly people!  This branch began in the early 1990s, even though it didn't officially open to the public until 1998. One of the coolest parts of this library? Children from the nearby neighborhood and artists Claudia Reese and Phil Martin from Austin Art in Public Places collaborated on a piece of art that’s on display in the Southeast Branch's Children's Reading Room.

They have tons of books, DVDs, and audiobook collections. 

Photo Credit: Allura Lyne S, Yelp

WEBSITE | 5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd, Austin, TX 78744

Ruiz Branch Library

Coolest libraries in Austin

Formerly known as the Riverside Drive Branch, the Daniel E. Ruiz Branch is one of the smallest in the Austin Public Library system. It's a lovely branch with plenty of open, green area surrounding it and a small parking lot. The staff here are incredibly welcoming and helpful. Small but mighty, the Ruiz Branch has a good variety of book options. But really, the best reason to visit this location is if you need a cozy, quaint place to study, use a computer, or access free wifi. Oh, and keep in mind that they also host reading events for kids here, so sometimes the library is a bit loud and crowded. It’s small, so there’s not a lot of space for the sound to go. 

Photo Credit: Texas G, Yelp

WEBSITE | 1600 Grove Blvd, Austin, TX 78741

All of the Austin Library Branch Locations

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Central Library

710 W. César Chávez St.

Austin History Center

810 Guadalupe St.

Carver Branch

1161 Angelina St.

Cepeda Branch

651 N. Pleasant Valley Rd.

Howson Branch

2500 Exposition Blvd.

Hampton Branch at Oak Hill

5125 Convict Hill Rd.

Little Walnut Creek Branch

835 W. Rundberg Ln.

Menchaca Road Branch

5500 Menchaca Rd.

Milwood Branch

12500 Amherst Dr.

North Village Branch

2505 Steck Ave.

Old Quarry Branch

7051 Village Center Dr.

Pleasant Hill Branch

211 E. William Cannon Dr.

Ruiz Branch

1600 Grove Blvd.

St. John Branch

7500 Blessing Ave.

Southeast Branch

5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd.

Spicewood Springs Branch

8637 Spicewood Springs Rd.

Terrazas Branch

1105 E. César Chávez St.

Twin Oaks Branch

1800 S. Fifth St.

University Hills Branch

4721 Loyola Ln.

Willie Mae Kirk Branch

3101 Oak Springs Dr.

Windsor Park Branch

5833 Westminster Dr.

Yarborough Branch

2200 Hancock Dr.

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