Planning for our library's future

Multnomah County Library is busier than ever, but our library system is, quite literally, running out of room.

Our library system is the fourth busiest in the entire country, yet we are not even among the top 100 when it comes to square footage. All 19 of our libraries would fit into Seattle's Central Library with room to spare. Librarians, library staff, and volunteers have been doing a stellar job of working with limited space and outdated buildings. But these limitations are not giving us the library system our community deserves.

Today, at many locations, librarians are forced to turn away families from storytimes and kindergarten readiness programs due to lack of space. Collaborative learning spaces for teens and quiet spaces to read and study are few. In East County, where poverty rates are high, our library facilities are very limited. We need library buildings that will meet the growing needs of our community.

In the summer of 2016, community representatives worked with library management, and national experts, in a year-long process to study the needs of our community and the limitations of our library system. Since then, library management has done in-depth work to shape a proposal that will give our community the library we need for the future. 

On January 30, 2020, the Multnomah County Board of County Commissioners heard a proposed plan to address our library's space and facility limitations. This plan is the result of four years of in-depth work. The Library Foundation Board fully supports this proposal and the thoughtful planning, and community input, that has taken place so far.

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