If that proves to be the case, the $165.5 million-dollar library is worth every penny — but there's much more to the library than its rugged good looks. The Central Library single-handedly redefines the popular notion of what a library should be: Its departments flow intuitively into each other; its nonfiction books are arranged in a continuous spiral; and its reference desk is called the "mixing chamber" and is staffed by librarians who aren't locked down to desks (they communicate with each other through the use of wireless, "Star Trek"-style communication badges).
The Seattle Public Library is the Macintosh of public libraries, designed for ease of use. And like the Mac, it just happens to look good and cost a lot of money.
By Geoff Carter
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday