San Antonio Public Library

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The San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) is the public library system serving the city of San Antonio, Texas. It consists of a central library, 29 branch libraries (as of the fall of 2017), and a library portal. SAPL was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service in 2006.[1]

In 2003, SAPL celebrated its centennial. New patrons received special centennial gold library cards instead of the usual purple cards.

Central Library[edit]

Central Library Northeastern façade

The Central Library is a 240,000-square-foot (22,000 m2), six-story structure that opened in 1995 in Downtown San Antonio.[2] It is easily recognized by its bright-colored, striking "Mexican Modernist" design. The primary color of the building's exterior is popularly referred to by San Antonians as "Enchilada Red."[3]

The architect for the building was selected by a design competition held by the city in July 1991. The winning design is by renowned Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta in partnership with Sprinkle Robey Architects and Johnson-Dempsey & Associates of San Antonio.[4] Unique features of the library include a multi-story, bright yellow atrium and several outdoor plazas with landscaping and fountains intended to be used as outdoor reading rooms. In Legorreta's own words: "I wanted to break the concept that libraries are imposing."[5]

The library was financed through a $28 million bond to build a new Central Library. The bonds were approved by San Antonio voters in 1989. In addition, another $10 million in funding from private sources and the city's general budget helped finance the murals and artwork inside the library, as well as new furniture, equipment, and fixtures.[6]

The centerpiece of the library is a two story glass blown sculpture named "Fiesta Tower". It was created by Dale Chihuly in 2003.[7]

Since its inauguration in May 1995, the new Central Library attracted a great deal of attention in architectural and library circles. After the new facility opened, circulation more than doubled from the previous year. The Central Library currently holds about 580,300 volumes.[8]

Previous buildings[edit]

Carnegie Library, San Antonio, Texas (postcard, circa 1900-1924)

The previous Central Library building at 203 S St. Marys Street was renovated and reopened in 1998. The building, which is located on the River Walk, was renamed the International Center and is primarily used as office space. It houses the City's Department of International Affairs, the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Trade Commission of Mexico-BancoMext, Casa Tamaulipas, and Casa Nuevo Leonthe as well as the headquarters for the building's primary tenant, the North American Development Bank.

The original San Antonio Public Library building, which backs up to the Riverwalk at 210 Market Street, served as the main library from 1930 to 1968, and was from 1968 to 2005 the home of the Hertzberg Circus Museum. In 2006, it was leased to the National Western Art Foundation and is undergoing renovation preparatory to housing the Dolph and Janie Briscoe Western Art Museum.

Branch libraries[edit]

In addition to the Central Library, SAPL has 29 branch libraries located throughout the San Antonio area. Some branches offer walking trails, fitness stations, and/or playgrounds.[9] During election season, certain locations become voting sites.[10]

  • Bazan Library
  • Brook Hollow Library
  • Carver Library
  • Cody Library
  • Collins Garden Library
  • Cortez Library
  • Encino Library
  • Forest Hills Library
  • Great Northwest Library
  • Guerra Library
  • Igo Library
  • Johnston Library
  • Kampmann Library
  • Landa Library
  • Las Palmas Library
  • Maverick Library
  • McCreless Library
  • Memorial Library
  • Mission Library
  • Pan American Library
  • Parman Library
  • Potranco Library
  • Pruitt Library
  • San Pedro Library
  • Schaefer Library
  • Semmes Library
  • Thousand Oaks Library
  • Tobin Library
  • Westfall Library


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Institute of Museum and Library Services Announces 20th Anniversary of National Medal Program". Institute of Museum and Library Services. 19 February 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  2. ^ Dillon, David (October 1995). "Texas Flower". Architecture. Vol. 84 no. 10. pp. 81–86. ISSN 0746-0554.
  3. ^ MacCormack, John (31 December 2011). "Legorreta's legacy: enchilada red". San Antonio Express-News.
  4. ^ Turner, Drexel (Fall 1991). "Going South: The New San Antonio Main Library" (PDF). Cite. Rice Design Alliance. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  5. ^ Mathis, Don (8 May 2015). "The Big, Red Central Library Turns 20". The Rivard Report. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  6. ^ Zapatos, Craig (2004). "Chapter 3: The San Antonio Public Library". In Webb, T.D. (ed.). Building Libraries for the 21st Century: The Shape of Information. McFarland & Company. pp. 41–49. ISBN 0-7864-2034-0.
  7. ^ San Antonio Architecture: Traditions and Visions. AIA San Antonio, a chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 2007. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-4243-3424-7. LCCN 2007923954. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Central Library". San Antonio Public Library. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Locations". San Antonio Public Library. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  10. ^ Cowart, Caitlin (Fall 2017). "Feed Your Freedom at the San Antonio Public Library" (PDF). Texas Library Journal. 93 (3): 80–81. ISSN 0040-4446. Retrieved 2 May 2018.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 29°25′56″N 98°29′34″W / 29.43231°N 98.49275°W / 29.43231; -98.49275