Tulsa’s Central Library set trends for library’s across the nation with its innovative architecture design. And now it’s up for another renovation. The library opened in downtown Tulsa as a symbol of education and literacy with a vision that would pave the way for how we use public libraries today. Charles Ward, the man who designed the Central Library in 1965 was not happy with the functionality of libraries back then. You’d have to go through a card catalog to find your book and then the librarian would have to retrieve it from a stack of books that ran from floor to ceiling. Therefore, he designed the Central Library so everyone could retrieve their own books and for use as a gathering space to inspire ideas or public discussions. Back in the 60’s it was a unique design. People were not used to walking through and taking books for themselves. However, the low stacks allowed people to browse for on their own.
Mr. Ward visited the library to retell how he conceived the idea for the unique design. Now, on the second floor you will find a two story quote wall, and a plaque with the names of the people responsible for constructing the original library can be seen next to it in bronze words. The plaque hides a time capsule that includes newspapers and photo’s that will be opened in the future.
Tulsan’s are now face with the job of how to improve the half century old building. They rejected a bond proposal to build a new building in a different location in 2004 and decided to stay downtown. Local Tulsa resident’s have voted to use $12 million from the reserve for a major renovation. Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle out of Minneapolis was hired to lead the renovation and construction will begin next fall with the reopening in the fall of 2013.
The future back then – The original design for the library in the mid 60s included open floor plans, low book stacks, kiosks for displays and carpeting to cut down on noise. They added a fountain in the atrium to fill a large space, which was a unique design for a library. The basement has a working space and storage room and the foundation was constructed to support two extra floors. Who knew they were actually thinking that far ahead.
People liked the children’s section with its small furniture and reading room. There was also an electronic media room created to hold collections since electronic media was just beginning to be part of the normal everyday life. Once upon a time, Tulsa’s Central Library even boasted about their 16mm films, long playing records, projectors and microfilm that was available to its visitors.
We’ve come a long way in such a short amount of time. So, we’ll see how much talk the new renovations will get.