PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
The library we need
Multnomah County Library is busier than ever.
As the library opens the doors of its 19 locations each day, our friends and neighbors file in — searching for books, attending storytimes, looking for help with homework, and submitting resumes online. Whether you're a student, job-seeker, senior, or a parent with young children in tow, the library is a valuable resource at every stage of life. It's no wonder our libraries are bursting at the seams with activity.
Multnomah County Library is the 4th busiest library system in the country, yet we are not even in the top 100 when it comes to square footage. In fact, all 19 of our library locations could fit into Seattle Public Library's downtown building, with room to spare. Since 1996, Multnomah County’s population has increased by 30%, while the square footage of our bustling library has increased by only 5%.
Our library is quite literally running out of room. Community spaces, which sometimes amount to just a simple, carpeted room, are instrumental to the work of librarians, and to the health and wellbeing of our community. Here's why:
Library staff and volunteers lead more than 18,000 program events a year. Offerings such as ESL classes, storytimes for young children and their parents, technology workshops for seniors, and cultural programming brought more than 311,000 attendees to the library last year alone. At many branches, families are being turned away from storytimes and programs for kindergarten readiness due to lack of space.
Multnomah County Library is the largest provider of free high-speed internet in the entire state of Oregon. Last year the library provided 1.8 million WiFi sessions and 670,000 computer sessions. There are often waiting times to use these computers, which provide patrons with access to online job applications, research tools, and connection to the world at large.
Librarians work with close to 270 schools in the area every year. Every teacher in every public school can get help from the library through the ‘SchoolCorps’ program; and with school budgets always tight, the public library is where teachers and students go for assistance.
Quiet study spaces are popular with students of all ages, but we only have 10 of them to serve 800,000 people. These rooms are only available at three libraries. And libraries like Belmont are so small, they don't really offer a place for patrons to simply sit and read.