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6 Things You Might Not Know About Burton Barr Library

by Fara Illich
Community Community Commentary Education Fara Illich November 21, 2019

Burton Barr Exterior

(Photo: Fara Ilich)

Known by every parent looking for a way to entertain their kids, every student looking for a place to study, and every bookworm looking for their next read, Burton Barr Central Library provides a host of educational resources and entertainment options for Downtown Phoenix and beyond. But it’s so much more than a warehouse for books.

Libraries across the country are evolving into digital learning labs, tech hubs and places for exploratory play — and Burton Barr is no different. While it’s still a great place for kids’ story times or finding the latest best seller, there might be some less obvious reasons for checking out your local library. Here are six things about Burton Barr you might not know yet.

All Fines Forgiven

Burton Barr books interior

(Photo: Fara Illich)

Remember that book you forgot to return for three months? Well as of Monday, all fines at Phoenix public library branches are forgiven. This is a big deal because the people most affected by fines are often the ones who need access to the library the most. Studies have shown that overdue fines don’t really impact the rate of on-time returns. In fact, it just discourages lower income families, and people who are unemployed or underemployed from checking things out. These are the same people who are are less likely to have books at home and are most at-risk for lower literacy. But if you lost that book you borrowed (and don’t return it all), you’re going to have to pay for it. 

Teen Central

teen central burton barr library

(Photo: Fara Illich)

Teens need a safe, healthy community space to gather with peers, and this provides just that — plus some cool stuff to play with. Located on the fourth floor of Burton Barr is a 5,000-square-foot teen center, specifically geared for folks 12-18 years old. In addition to a music room that allows teens to check out instruments like drums, guitars and keyboards, there are computers with high-speed Internet, comfy areas for reading and studying, a movie screen, video games, an art gallery, and of course, age-appropriate books, CDs and DVDs.

Culture Pass

eye lounge art gallery first friday

(Photo: Jill Richards)

Did you know you can get free tickets to the Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona Science Center, Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Theatre Company (and so much more)? A Culture Pass gives library card-holders free admission for two people at participating museums, performing arts venues and cultural attractions. Just find the laminated card for the destination of your choice, and take it to the checkout desk. They’re available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Arizona Room

arizona room burton barr library

(Photo: Fara Illich)

Learn about all-things-Arizona on the second floor of Burton Barr Central Library​, where you’ll find a research collection about the heritage, lifestyle and geography of the desert Southwest, all the way from prehistoric times to present. Pilfer through turn-of-the-century high school yearbooks, phone books, letters, newspaper clippings, photos and so much more. It’s free and open to the public, but you may need an appointment to view some of the special collections.


maker space burton barr library

(Photo: Fara Illich)

Learn coding, robotics, sewing, 3D printing and all sorts of other technical and mechanical skills at the free makerspace on the fourth floor of Burton Barr library. Unlike other spaces around the Valley, Mach1 is free to use with a library card. From little makers to adults who love to tinker, there are classes, meetups and programs for everyone.

Hive @ Central

the hive coworking business development burton barr

(Photo: Fara Illich)

Combining elements of a coworking space with the fact-finding services and resources of a library, Hive @ Central can help startups and entrepreneurs launch or expand a successful business. Programs include the Business Roadmap — an eight-part series on starting a business in Arizona, and the IRS Financial & Tax Series, which teaches the fundamentals of bookkeeping and accounting. In addition to one-on-one mentoring, you’ll get to know other innovators, network, and make valuable connections.