Downtown Tulsa Library Undergoes Massive Renovation


Friday, March 14th 2014, 4:49 pm
By: Emory Bryan


The Central Library in downtown Tulsa has always been the city's busiest library location. But right now, it's closed for a total renovation.

Like a giant book that holds a mystery, with Tulsa's downtown Central Library closed up, it's hard to tell what's inside. A massive renovation job is underway, but it's really more of an outright reconstruction.

The covering on the outside walls will come off to be replaced and the inside is being gutted because every element will be changed, except the downtown location.

Tulsa Library Director, Gary Shaffer, said, "It will look like a brand new building, but it will still have that mid-century, modern, theme."

The 4th floor, the one used for research, is now stripped clean of everything but support columns and elevator shafts, revealing why the building is worth saving. Each floor was built like a bridge to hold up the weight of the books, so it's got good bones.

The new Central will look dramatically different inside, and incorporate the latest technology. It will have balconies and large outdoor spaces. The inside will be opened up, and brighter, with more computers and fewer books.

But the radical rebuild means Central has to be stripped down to the shell.

"I'm a little sad, it's sad to see a library go away, but I'm also hopeful, because it's going to be this amazing space once it reopens and will be reinvigorated and reinvented to last us the next 50 to 100 years," Shaffer said.

The technology for the new Central will have features of its short term replacement, the Librarium. It's serving as a test lab for new technology and trends, and will close after Central reopens.