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Burton Barr Central Library, Phoenix

(4.6/5 based on 160+ reviews on the web)
The Burton Barr Central Library is the central library of Phoenix, Arizona. It is the flagship location and administrative headquarters for the Phoenix Public Library.HistoryDWL Architects and Will Bruder teamed to design the building. It incorporates a Buckminster Fuller tensegrity structure in its roof and featured motorized louvers on its south face for improved sun control (they never worked properly and were disconnected years ago). The library is physically oriented for a display of sunlight alignment on equinox days.The building was funded by a 1988 bond issue and replaced a nearby 1950s-era facility on McDowell Road that is now part of the Phoenix Art Museum. The location opened in May 1995 and is 280,000 square feet (26,000 m²) on five stories. Most of the fifth floor is an open, 1acre reading room. The entire building is connected by a five-floor glass-and-steel elevator and stairwell known as the "Crystal Canyon." It was named in honor of Burton Barr, the Republican Major Leader in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1966 to 1986. There are over 705,000 items in the collection.In 2008, the library was chosen as one of the Phoenix Points of Pride. In 2010, the library received a LEED Existing Buildings Silver 2.0 designation. The library was awarded in the "existing buildings" category, rather than new construction, as LEED was not created until 1998, three years after the facility was opened.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Although most of the library's materials are old, you can always fill out a request for an item from a different library within the Valley. I've utilized that option numerous times. I also like that i...  more »
  • Fantastic place! I have never been in a library this big before.i think it will take me at least 50 years to go thru the mystery book section and I am 67-I better read fast! 
  • Interesting building. Very spacious & pleasant. Esp the elevator ride to top Great Reading room. Built under budget apparently by local hippie architect Bruder. Very desert friendly & good example of ...  more »
Google
  • Great place to read and study. Free wi-fi and relatively quiet areas to sit down in comfortable seats and desks.
  • Largest selection of reading material of any library in Arizona other than a University. I'd give it 5 stars but, it can at times be very loud. Since when does a library allow Loud Talking?! Also be very careful if you happen to live close by and decide to bike there. Even though there are cameras everywhere I'm told by the staff that bike theft is not unusual at this location. For business owners or those who think they may have a great idea for a business this library has many classes to help. Check the second floor at "The Hive"
  • I like this library. I've been coming here since I was a kid. The fifth floor is great. Nice place to study; its cool, somewhat quiet, and nice views of up and downtown. I am sad to say, if I was a parent, Im not sure if I would let my kids come here. Ive seen some weird stuff here. Ive seen peeps drinking hooch-yes, straight up, jailhouse, orange peel and jolly rancher, pruno juice. A bum fight in the restrooms. I still give it five stars, though. Ample parking, a lot of it covered. Nice staff. Nice design.
  • This is a large library, which I enjoy, that is right off the Lightrail & stays open late several nights each week. I also like to schedule & use their Study Rooms for a little more privacy. Plus, they have The HIVE for entrepreneur/small business support. The staff has always been friendly & helpful. I wish they wouldn't SHOUT multiple closing reminders: 15-min, 10-min, 5-min, & CLOSED!
  • Huge selection of books. Very nice selection of newly published items as well. The video selection seems quite large but, I've never been able to locate anything I want except via placing an item on hold in advance. Seems as if the video selections are one of the most popular. Rather large number of computers are available although the recent change of allowing 2 hours time per visit makes the wait time less than reasonable in my opinion. I believe this may be due to some recent political considerations concerning the homeless and if so then it is understandable. The wifi is fairly decent though and there is a room on the 2nd floor that is designated a "quite room" where electrical outlets are readily available. As this is a downtown venue there are large numbers of homeless people but, not to worry, being poor and homeless isn't a condition that is catching! And from my personal experience they mostly don't bite! I'd love to give this place 5 stars but, long ago they closed the small coffee shop. For some unspoken reason they refuse to reopen it? The times when they're open have been reduced in the past. Hopefully this will change sometime in the future. Wonderful staff.