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Check Out 6 of the Finest New Library Buildings in the U.S.

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Photo via <a href="http://www.newmanarchitects.com/libraries_slover.html">Newman Architects</a>
Photo via Newman Architects

It's a tricky time for public libraries. In addition to the constant threat of budget cuts, these time-honored cultural institutions also have to fight to stay as relevant as possible in this rapidly digitalizing world. In some cases, this might mean ramping up public access to the Internet; in others, it might mean bringing in 3-D printers for community use. And as evidenced by this fresh batch of winners in the American Institute of Architects's 2015 Library Building Awards, the design of the structures themselves certainly matters. Whether it's the exuberant renovation of a Brutalist masterpiece by Paul Rudolph or a new San Antonio library built largely of locally-made materials, each winning design tells the story of how thoughtful architecture can help the library evolve and keep up with the times.

Photo via OPN Architects

Cedar Rapids Public Library · Cedar Rapids, IA · OPN Architects (↑ ↓)

After a flood in 2008 severely damaged Cedar Rapids' existing public library, the city set out to build a new central library that's meets the broad needs of the 21st century. This mission translated into a more streamlined interior ("more like an Apple Store and less like the DMV") with shorter shelves that "preserve views across the building" and strategically placed staff kiosks, as well as floor-to-ceiling glass windows that wrap around the structure and engage with the street and public plaza. While the new library is 10,000 square feet larger than the original structure, it uses "less than one third of the energy consumed by the old building on a per square foot basis."

Photo via OPN Architects

Photo via designLAB architects

Claire T. Carney Library Addition & Renovation · Dartmouth, MA · designLAB architects (↑ ↓)

The Brutalist library originally designed by midcentury architect Paul Rudolph some 40 years ago has been updated into an attractive new campus hub via bold and bright graphics on the interior, not to mention glazing and metal sunshades that turn it from "an 'energy monster' into a sustainable benchmark. The school estimates that the renovated library with its new addition is getting three times as many visitors as before.

Photo via designLAB architects

Photo via Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects

Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library and Learning Center · Little Rock, Arkansas · Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects (↑ ↓)

This new community learning center strives to mend the racial and socioeconomic partitions brought forth by a new interstate highway 40 years ago and create a library "that is the 'place to be' for all children." The result is a dynamic building that, in addition to shelves of books, also includes a performance space, greenhouse, vegetable garden, and arboretum.

Photo via Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects

Photo via Muñoz and Company

Mission Branch Library · San Antonio, TX · Muñoz and Company (↑ ↓)

Built on the site of a former drive-in theater, this modern single-story library in San Antonio is infused with the local culture and resources. The roof is covered with locally made barrel vaulted clay tiles, the lobby features cross vaults built by local craftsmen, and the floor also uses "locally made patterned cement encaustic tile known as Mission Tile."

Photo via Muñoz and Company

Photo via Newman Architects

Slover Library · Norfolk, VA · Newman Architects & Tymoff + Moss Architects (↑ ↓)

This project in Norfolk involves the restoration of a 115-year-old building and a glassy 7-story addition that aims for a "porous, welcoming, and diaphanous feel." The complex also features an intricately designed "system of ornament" in the entrance and lobby area, including a ceiling "comprised of over 1,000 elements die stamped and hand-hammered into an abstract botanical form."

Photo via Newman Architects

Photo via The Miller Hull Partnership

Vancouver Community Library · Vancouver, WA · The Miller Hull Partnership (↑ ↓)

Located by a busy intersection, this new library features a four-story, 200-foot long atriu, lounges, study pods, an interactive children's early learning area, as well as a garden roof terrace that overlooks what will be a master-planned civic plaza. The streamlined display of books are "perfectly day-lit from a contniuous north facing curtain wall of high-performance glass."

Photo via The Miller Hull Partnership

· The American Institute of Architects Select Six Recipients for the 2015 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards [AIA]
· Come Revel in the Organized Glory of Historic Libraries [Curbed National]