Photo fun at Austin's new Central Library

The new Austin Central Library is open, and we are beside ourselves with excitement. It's gorgeous, well-executed, and -- bonus -- a photographer's dream. We went for a visit this morning and found ourselves there before it opened, but not to worry -- the grounds and newly-improved Waller Creek walking trail -- were the perfect place to run off some zany morning energy.

Austin is growing faster than anybody can keep track of, but this new section of downtown (by the old power plant) is a good reminder that although it's not the old Austin, whoever is in charge has a pretty damn good sense of city aesthetics.

So we wandered the property and the trail, and lined up out front just before 10am, waiting for the doors to open. My little buddy was beside himself with excitement to greet the security guard who came to unlock the door.

I can't believe I didn't take a photo of the enormous, red, grackle-themed grandfather clock in the foyer of the building. Because it's awesome. And because my little guy and I got matching grackle-clock temporary tattoos in the children's section, and that's pretty dope if you ask me.

The children's section is thoughtfully designed with children in mind. The shelves are low, the seating is brightly colored and miniature, and this guy and his buddy immediately felt right at home.

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But the best part? The huge, fully screened wrap-around porch adjacent to the children's section. Tough, braided-rope furniture, interactive wall exhibits, and fun outdoor toys like giant pinwheels and kid-sized binoculars were a MAJOR hit with these toddlers. Even though the space has only been open a few days, Austin families have already made themselves at home. During our visit, I found a parent-child pair cuddled up with a book on nearly every outdoor sofa on the expansive porch.

The brilliant folks who designed this place clearly had true Austin kids in mind -- the type that feel more at home outside than inside, and need an environment they can climb around on and interact with. A-plus to you, Lake Flato architects!

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A trip up the shiny new elevator led to the gorgeous rooftop patio, which almost felt weird without a bunch of chic 20-somethings sipping mojitos on it. Another parent and I exchanged thoughts about how we'd consider hiring a sitter and coming up here on a date. Not many libraries in the country can boast that sentiment, I'm guessing.

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This here photographer is now dreaming of bringing a client family here for a session. What sweeter (and more photogenic) place could there be to spend a couple of hours for a family of book-lovers? In my humble opinion, none.

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