The third Library Journal New Landmark Libraries roundup focused on public libraries has recognized the Tulsa City-County Library’s Central Library as one of its six winners. The series focuses on libraries that successfully work with their individual communities to inform building design. This year’s jurors included Eva Poole, executive director of Virginia Beach Public Library; Mar González Palacios, associate director of special collections for Yale University’s Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library; Misty Jones, director of San Diego Public Library; Matthew Bollerman, chief executive officer of Hauppauge Public Library; and Aude Jomini, senior associate with Pelli Clarke Pelli. Along with New Landmark Libraries project coordinator Emily Puckett Rodgers, they evaluated candidate projects based on five key criteria:
1. Community engagement in design
5. Beauty and delight
Describing the Tulsa City-County Library’s Central Library renovation, Emily Puckett Rodgers states, “A variety of design, programming, and infrastructure interventions, led by Traci Engel Lesneski at MSR Design, created a building that is exemplary in the field of generative design: The focus was to maximize the health and well-being of its occupants and to minimize the long-term effects of its operations on the environment.”
The Tulsa City-County Library’s Central Library urban renewal project contributes to the revitalization of a second-tier city’s struggling downtown core by transforming a dated central library and inhospitable civic plaza into a prized community destination for active learning and creative engagement. Key features of the reimagined library include a revitalized civic plaza and new public garden for programming and community events; new parking garage with an enclosed two-story link to the library building; clear, secure entry sequence in which all ways of entering the library collect into one main lobby area; restored access to shade-giving balconies; full-service café; interactive education center for research and development of learning practices; makerspace with recording studio and flight simulators; destination children’s library with direct access to the garden; and a wide mix of spaces in which people can meet, collaborate, study, work, and play.
Tulsa City-County Library CEO Kimberly Johnson explains, “We’ve adapted to the world around us and helped propel our community forward, further moderating inequities in areas such as access to information, educational achievement, and economic opportunity.”