Seattle Public Library

I had some time to kill last weekend after the SCBWI Western Washington conference was over. Seattle was gorgeous, the mountain was out (is that what you say? It was remarkable.) and I had already seen a fish or two flung at Pike Place Market.

So I went to the library.

IMG_2065 This is the 10th floor, looking out and down. According to the elevator, it was the highest lookout point, so it was my first stop. But oh, the elevator:


You pick your floor by Dewey classification. YOU PICK YOUR FLOOR BY DEWEY CLASSIFICATION. Blew my mind. I tweeted about it, and am still thinking about it.

And how beautiful is this? This is looking down on the teen librarians and the coffee shop, which I stopped at, obviously.


And this! Kudos to the librarian who watched me geek out over this art installation and then gave me a high five. These screens showcase four different visualizations by George Legrady, an artist and professor of interactive media at UCSB. The one in particular below is called “Keyword Map Attack” and it shows keywords of checked-out titles that are mapped back to their Dewey classification. It constantly changes and updates, because it is directly linked to the library’s catalog. So cool.

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(And to whoever was searching for spinjitzu, you made me curious, so I looked it up. It’s a martial art in a LEGO universe! Art. At the library. That taught me something. MINDBLOWN.)

How about these floors? Another librarian I spoke to said they sold the leftover strips for a dollar an inch, and that she had a bunch hanging on the walls of her living room. I was in complete envy and shock and awe and wow. IMG_2073 IMG_2085

And then I went to the children’s section.


The security man looked at me funny when I took this picture, and I think I mumbled something about the letters, and the circles making up the letters, and I love your library and happy Monday. Really.


A Paul Thurlby poster! Remember him? (Spoiler alert: his new book is brilliant and you’ll love it.)

But now. You have to see this. Of all the books they had, this one caught my eye first.


Shapes Book, by Sofia (to share with people at the library)

Sofia is my kind of girl.

I took her book and tried to be gentle with it and flipped through the pages. She wrote about shape! And lines! And ones that wiggle. (She might like this one?)

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After I put Sofia’s masterpiece back on the shelf, I noticed what was displayed next to it:


I loved that. Maybe Sofia’s book was there because she is making math amazing, like the sign says. But also? That infographic is really lovely graphic design: clear, dynamic, and driven by color and shape. Sofia’s investigation of shapes is something I’m sure that graphic designer has given consideration to. Something was really magical about this duo, and I was just tickled.

If you get a chance to peek into the Seattle Public Library, please do! I mean, it’ll probably be raining anyway, right?



  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    That Keyword Map Attack is crazy amazing. I can’t even believe it. I don’t think I’d move, wanting to watch it all day. (And of course I know what Spinjitzu is. Sorry I wasn’t there to tell you immediately.)

    But that book by Sofia made me cry. So beautiful. Most especially the cursive g in “polygon.” But the whole thing, and that it was displayed like that. Love.

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Right? So special. Bet Sofia was proud.

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    TOTAL LIBRARY GEEK OUT FREAK OUT MOMENT FOR ME, TOO! Wish I would have there been with you. Please say, like Forrest Gump, “You were.”

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    Well, duh. Of course.

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Okay. Seattle is now on my list of places to move to. We’re doing dreary here today and we got nuthin’ like that library.

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Too cool!

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    I’d be so excited in that library that I think I would forget to get some books!

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Wow! That was really neat to see! Thanks for sharing.

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I KNEW people here would understand my giddiness. 🙂

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for a wonderful tour of the Seattle Library! Amazing. I can’t believe my brother (who lives there) never told me about it or took me there. Shame on him. On my next visit, I’m making sure I take him!

  • Suellen Franze
    Posted April 29, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    Carter, What a wonderful story, and beautiful photographs! Thank you so much. Love, Suellen

    Sent from my iPad

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Suellen!

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Next trip to Seattle to see my mother in law, the library will be on my agenda. 🙂

  • Posted April 29, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Oh, you will love it.

  • Posted April 30, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    I would love to live there, I do believe!

  • Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Wow, wow, wow! Great shots. I’m so used to your posts, I was waiting for “element of design: line” to be after the first picture 🙂

  • Posted May 6, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I love that! I’m rethinking those elements visually, which is why they have been absent…but I love that you expected it!

  • Posted May 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    The Seattle Library is by Dutch architecture practice, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). Their work is always highly cerebral and engaging: we visited their Casa da Musica in Porto, Portugal. Similarly amazing. You can check out more images of the Library here.

  • Posted May 9, 2013 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks! Awesome,

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