Filed Under Education

Civic Center Library

Any great city needs a first rate library as a part of its cultural accouterments. The Civic Center Library found in Downtown Scottsdale, with its beautiful physical aesthetic, fulfills this requirement and then some. The library opened in 1968 and was constructed concurrently with the adjacent Scottsdale City Hall. Both were designed by local architect, and Arizona native, Bennie M. Gonzales. The city was in desperate need of a suitable library. The city’s original library might have technically fulfilled its function, but was only 2,400 square feet. When initially constructed the Civic Center Library measured in at 37,000 square feet. After major renovations in 1987 and 1995 the library now occupies an impressive 103,000 square feet of space.

The Civic Center Library and City Hall were designed and constructed in tandem as a part of a larger effort to establish a cultural center for the city in the Downtown Scottsdale area. Each was built with cement blocks and covered with a white mortar wash. Both also feature almost entirely open designs with naturally divided areas which can easily be repurposed. The library resides on park-like grounds which contains a lagoon, fountains, and various art pieces such as sculptures. The architect believed that libraries should be built in an easily accessible area, near homes. This would better create a sense of community and function as a center for activity.

A good library does not only house some assortment of reading and research materials, the best libraries are also communal centers of activity. The Civic Center Library offers the best of both. There are well over 100,000 books covering even very obscure topics. Several works detailing various aspects of the Southwest and the City of Scottsdale can be difficult to find elsewhere. A part of the libraries mission is to engage with the citizenry. There is always some sort of ongoing activity. The library has hosted various art exhibitions, such as the creation of a Tibetan Monk Sand Mandala, but also hosts summer reading camps for youngsters and workshops for people of all ages.


Library Looking Across the Lagoon
Library Looking Across the Lagoon Built in 1968, the Civic Center Library was designed by Bennie M. Gonzales Associates and is part of the civic complex at the center of Scottsdale. It is designed as a "contemporary interpretation of local forms and materials," which includes double think walls, deeply recessed windows, and a light exterior color on the exterior. Source: Scottsdale Public Library, Scottsdale History Collection, Scottsdale Digital Collection, Scottsdale Heritage Connection, Scottsdale City Hall--Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, CCL-HIS-2013-5135 <> accessed December 6, 2016. Date: 2012
Open Interior
Open Interior Overhead shot of the open interior before any major renovations. Source: Scottsdale Digital Collection. Scottsdale Heritage Connection. CCL-LIB-2014-0174 - <> - accessed December 9, 2016. Date: 1978
Community Meeting
Community Meeting Shot of a community meeting in the center of the libraries main hall. Source: Scottsdale Digital Collection. Scottsdale Heritage Connection. CCL-LIB-2014-0177 - <> accessed December 9, 2016. Date: ca. 1978
1995 Renovations
1995 Renovations The library staff during the major 1995 renovations in a new sub-division. Source: Scottsdale Public Library History collection. Scottsdale Digital collection. Scottsdale Heritage Connection. APP_LIB_2016_0001 - <> accessed December 9, 2016. Creator: Scottsdale Public Library Date: 1995
Sand Mandala
Sand Mandala Onlookers observe Tibetan Monks in the process of creating a Sand Mandala. One of the libraries many arts projects. Source: Scottsdale Digital Collection. Scottsdale Heritage Connection. SCOT-LIB-2011-5308 - <> accessed December 9, 2016. Date: ca. 1996



Aidan Solsten, “Civic Center Library,” Salt River Stories, accessed May 23, 2024,