So, you’re a researcher or librarian in town for SXSW, and after a few days of straight conference you want to see what else Austin has to offer. Here’s a special list of suggestions just for you, the gal or guy who appreciates the arts AND information. These are all centrally located, and shouldn’t require a car if you’re willing to walk a bit.  

  1. Landmarks UT – The UT in this stands for the University of Texas at Austin, which is located pretty much in the center of everything. The campus boasts more than 35 works of public art throughout its 400+ acres, and Landmarks UT is your guide to viewing them. There’s something relaxing about viewing art in a non-museum setting, and the chance to see the campus is an added bonus. Guided and self-guided tours are available. My favorite stop is Skyspace by James Turrell.
  2. UT Fine Arts Library – There’s a piano hanging from the ceiling at this library, or at least there was last time I was there. That gives you a sense of the place. My favorite thing to do here is browse the shelves upon shelves of art books. Being the savvy researcher that you are, you can find where these are located by using the library catalog. And while you’re at it, check out their collection of zines.
  3. I Luv Video – If you suddenly feel the need to hole up and watch a movie, I recommend I Luv Video. It’s one of the few remaining video stores in Austin (Vulcan Video is another), and the place is thriving. The walls are lined with rentals, and you’ll find a great blend of the popular and the obscure. If you can’t find something or need a recommendation, the staff is usually pretty helpful as long as they’re not in a conversation with another customer. 
  4. Farewell Books: Farewell Books is an independent bookstore located on Cesar Chavez, just east of I-35. Technically that’s East Austin, but it’s very close to downtown. The store offers a small yet well-crafted selection art books, zines, graphic novels, and other types of independent literature. It’s hard to walk out of there without buying anything, and the browsing is excellent. In the back of the store is Flat Track Coffee, and the store also shares space with a very hip boutique called Las Cruxes.
  5. Austin Public Library (new Central Library location): The main branch of the Austin Public Library is nothing unique; you’ve probably seen many other libraries like it. However, in the fall of 2016, the APL will transform into a modern library of the 21st Century when it moves into a brand new location on the shore of Lady Bird Lake. The new library will be state-of-the-art in every way imaginable, and I’m personally very excited about it. Construction is still in progress, but you can view the new building from the running trail that goes around the lake. If you head down there, bring some lunch and eat at the giant picnic table that’s nearby. It’s hard to miss.  For food recommendations, check out Fed Man Walking