Austin Central Library in Austin, Texas
Nic Lehoux

Austin Central Library

Austin, Texas

At this library, which opened in 2017, the books—500,000 in total—are just the beginning of the story. There’s also an art gallery, an event space, a rooftop butterfly garden, a series of group-study rooms, a café (featuring several cookbook-inspired meals) and a “technology petting zoo,” which enables visitors to toy with next-generation gadgets, like a 3-D printer. The building itself—which centers around a six-story, sun-drenched atrium—is cutting-edge too. In July, it earned a Platinum LEED certification for its sustainable design, which includes a bicycle-repair and parking garage and a cistern on the roof that pipes rainwater to the bathrooms. —Julia Zorthian

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