Austin History Center is devoted to keeping and maintaining Austin history. In possession of over one million items, from manuscripts, maps, and news clippings, to recorded oral histories and photographs, Austin History Center has historical artifacts from before 1839, Austin's founding. Open both to the public and for research purposes, also available is a reference service online and over the phone.
Established in 1926, the City of Austin Public Library system has 20 branches, plus the John Henry Faulk Central Library and the Austin History Center, located adjacent to each other in downtown Austin. The motto of the Austin Public Library is “Lifelong Learning” and the library system offers information and materials in a variety of formats including books, magazines, audio books, CDs, MP3s and DVDs. Public Internet computers and wireless Internet access are available at every location with computer training centers at Faulk Central, Little Walnut Creek, and Ruiz branches. The Austin Public Library also sponsors speakers, programs, book clubs and reading programs including author programs, film screenings, musical performances for adults, teens and children. Free meeting rooms are available at most branches for non-profit organizations. The Austin Public Library catalog, reference assistance and e-books for checkout are available online at the Austin Public Library website.
Originally a small bookstore opened in 1970 near the University of Texas called Grok Books (after the Robert A. Heinlein book Stranger in a Strange Land) today BookPeople is the largest independent bookstore in Texas. Located adjacent to the Whole Foods flagship store downtown at 6th and Lamar, this multi story 40,000 square feet bookstore sells books, magazines, audio books, cards and stationary, jewelry, gifts and arts and crafts from around the world. Voted “The Best Bookstore in Austin” by readers of the Austin Chronicle every year since 1984, BookPeople has a comfortable atmosphere filled with nooks and crannies where you can curl up in an armchair with an old favorite or a new discovery. BookPeople has frequent booksignings and events that showcase local and national authors. The store also contains BookKids (BookPeople for Kids and Teens) and a schedule of literary camps and events for young people.
First opened in 1975 as a collective called The Common Woman Bookstore (based on the Judy Grahn poem) BookWoman offers not only the largest selection of books by and about women in Texas, but provides a performance space, a safe space and a center for education and outreach for all types of women. A variety of readings and discussion groups are regularly held at BookWoman. Supporting the careers of local female writers, artists and musicians, BookWoman's stated goal is to value books as cultural and intellectual expressions, not merely commodities. While BookWoman guarantees the availability of books by feminists, lesbians and woman of color, the store also stocks books on many issues relating to women as well as children's books including some titles in Spanish. BookWoman also carries a unique selection of gift items, T-shirts, cards, posters, and music.