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.
In 2003, SAPL celebrated its centennial. New patrons received special centennial gold library cards instead of the usual purple cards.
The Central Library is a 240,000-square-foot (22,000 m2), six-story structure that opened in 1995 in Downtown San Antonio. 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."
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. 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."
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.
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.
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.
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. During election season, certain locations become voting sites.
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