Podcasting studios and a cafe are just a few of the $6M upgrades coming to Cossitt Library

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Performance space, podcasting studios and even a cafe are on the horizon for the historic Cossitt Library in Downtown Memphis.

The library was the city’s first public library built in the late 1890’s and now it’s getting a major makeover.

FOX13 got an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the new renovations, and these aren’t your typical library upgrades.

Staff members said libraries aren’t just a place to read books anymore. They want it to become a gathering place that fits the needs of its neighborhood.

Cossitt wants to become a new home for entrepreneurs, students and artists.

“There are not too many spaces where you can truly say anybody is welcome in this space and libraries are one of those spaces,” said senior library manager Shamichael Hallman.

Some of the renovations include performance stages, music studios, co-working space and a cafe. Hallman said they’ll also offer technology and programming workshops.

“While we certainly want to have spaces for people to study. we really want the library to be a gathering place, we want people to come get something to eat and meet new friends, meet new people and hang out,” Hallman said.

The $6 million renovations largely funding by a national grant from the “Imagining the Civic Commons” initiative, along with support from the city and several community organizations.

“For some people, books are the thing that come to mind when you think of a library but I think the library is also a bridge, libraries have the opportunity to attach people from all walks of life,” Hallman said.

Library staff said the renovations should be completed by this fall.